Session IPA Blind Taste Test

17 Apr

On the heels of the taste test I did between Founders All Day IPA and Stone Go To IPA a couple weeks back, yesterday I was able to partake in a blind taste test between several session IPAs. I had a few friends over, including Chuck P from the Me & My Big Mouth Radio/Podcast, Eric from BR Beer Scene and my buddy, Buddy. We had recorded a radio show doing reviews of various beers, then started recording a podcast. This proved to be a good opportunity to break out 5 different session IPAs to do a blind tasting.

The session IPAs we tasted were, in no particular order, Founders All Day IPA, Southern Tier Farmer’s Tan, Sierra Nevada Nooner (only available in the 4-Way IPA sampler pack), Terrapin RecreationAle, and Stone Go To IPA.

The beers were poured by my dear wife in the kitchen and brought to us on the patio where we were recording. We tasted 5 different beers, and recorded scores for them based on appearance (15 points), aroma (25 points), flavor/taste (40 points) and mouthfeel (20 points).

My score sheets are with Eric to be used in a future Feature Beer Friday column, so I’m going from memory here. However, two of the beers stood out among the five as the clear leaders, and it was pretty unanimous. The Founders All Day IPA edged the Stone Go To IPA out by a hair in my scoring. The Go To IPA had the best aroma by far of all the beers we tried. In fact, the high scores in the aroma category are what carried this beer to such a high overall finish. The initial flavor had a bit of a grapefruit rind bitterness on the first few sips, and it lost some points there. After those few sips, it seemed to dissipate, or I just got used to it. The Founders All Day IPA had a nice aroma and was just an overall good beer from start to finish.

Both of those beers stood out from the pack, and surprisingly, the Sierra Nevada Nooner was the least enjoyable of the five. That was also unanimous. The Terrapin and Southern Tier offerings were good and I could easily drink them, but for my money, I’ll stick to the Stone Go To IPA and Founders All Day IPA. If the Founders All Day IPA had the aroma of the Stone Go To IPA, I’d have my perfect session IPA.

The blind taste test is something I need to do more of, as it really helps eliminate any bias you have towards or against a certain brewery. I’m looking forward to trying this with different styles.

Make sure you keep tabs on the BR Beer Scene blog for the full reviews of these beers as well as a multitude of others that we did yesterday.

The Session IPA Blind Taste Test

The Session IPA Blind Taste Test

NOLA Brewing to launch Rebirth pale ale April 16th

8 Apr

NOLA Brewing is launching a new pale ale on April 16th to benefit The Roots of Music, a non-profit music organization co-founded by Rebirth Brass Band drummer, Derrick Tabb. This sessionable pale ale is brewed using five different malts, as well as Cascade, Citra and Simcoe hops. It will also be available later this summer in 12-ounce cans.

See the press release and pictures of the sweet looking tap handle and can design below.

 

NOLA Rebirth pale ale tap handle

NOLA Rebirth pale ale tap handle

BEER & BRASS

NOLA Brewing Introduces Rebirth Pale Ale Benefiting The Roots of Music

Official Release Party Wednesday, April 16

 

For the past five years, NOLA Brewing Company has been bringing the history and tradition of beer back to New Orleans. Founded on the concept of helping rebuild and develop commerce in post-Katrina New Orleans, the NOLA based brewery offers a variety of beers made with the finest available hops, malts and unique yeast blends.

Continuing in this tradition, NOLA Brewing is proud to unveil its latest brew – Rebirth Pale Ale on draft – benefitting The Roots of Music.  The company’s first pale ale pays tribute to the Rebirth Brass Band while supporting music education for New Orleans’ youth through the non-profit organization, co-founded by Rebirth drummer, Derrick Tabb and Allison Reinhardt.

“We decided to name the brew Rebirth for a number of reasons,” explains Kirk CocoCEO of NOLA Brewing. “A big part of the meaning comes from the rebirth of the city post-Katrina and being a part of that process. Another is that the Rebirth Brass Band is a shining example of music from our city. We wanted to give back to the community with our beer, and The Roots of Music was a perfect fit – helping kids in the city where music education is vital, and supporting the music everyone at the brewery loves!”

Derek Tabb adds, “We’re excited and honored that NOLA Brewing would pick us to represent them in its latest beer, while also supporting an organization that’s most near and dear to our hearts.”

In celebration of the release, the brewery invites imbibers to sample the new beer on Wednesday, April 16 at5 p.m. in the taproom at 3001 Tchoupitoulas Street.  Admission is free and open to the public (21+up) and will feature complimentary light bites, live entertainment

and $3-$7 beers. In attendance will be the talented kids from The Roots of Music Marching Crusaders along with Derrick Tabb and members of the Rebirth Brass Band. 

Rebirth Pale Ale is a sessionable, American-style pale ale that uses five different malt varieties and desirable hops including Cascade, Simcoe and Citra. The pale ale is wonderfully balanced and its flavorful hop taste and aroma allows for more than one indulgence at a time, coming in at only 5% ABV.

To help raise money for The Roots of Music’s mission to teach, support and empower New Orleans’ youth through music education, a portion of all beer sales at the release party, as well as a portion of ongoing retail sales of Rebirth Pale Ale, will be donated to the organization. Stay tuned for a soon-to-be released 6 pack 12 oz. can set of the Rebirth Pale Ale to debut this summer. For more information on NOLA Brewing visit www.nolabrewing.com.

NOLA Rebirth pale ale can design

NOLA Rebirth pale ale can design

 

Louisiana Brewing Spotlight: LA Homebrew

4 Apr LA Homebrew Logo

Baton Rouge homebrewer, and president of the Red Stick Brewmasters homebrew club, Keith Primeaux, realized there was a deficiency in the Baton Rouge market for homebrew supplies. While a few shops around town carried some homebrew ingredients and supplies, there hasn’t been a one-stop shop to find everything a homebrewer needed in Baton Rouge. That meant resorting to online orders with places like Austin Homebrew or Northern Brewer, or driving to Brewstock in New Orleans. So Keith took matters into his own hands, opening LA Homebrew in Baton Rouge in late 2013.

LA Homebrew 3

After a few short months, it’s very apparent that was a good decision. According to Keith, business has been booming, and he recently expanded his hours from just a few hours a day to now being open from noon until 7PM weekdays.

Personally, I’ve purchased all my homebrew ingredients and supplies from LA Homebrew since I first set foot in the shop in December. No longer do I need to order online and wait for ingredients to show up. I can drop by on the way home from work and be brewing that evening.

The selection of grains, hops and yeast is fantastic. And there’s plenty of equipment for everyone from the beginning homebrewer to the seasoned veteran. Anything you need in regards to homebrewing, Keith has it at LA Homebrew.

And it’s not limited to only the Baton Rouge area. LA Homebrew is setup to ship anywhere in the country. So, if you’re reading this from somewhere outside of the Baton Rouge area, you can still order ingredients or supplies and have it shipped right to your front door!

Check out a few pics of the shop below.

LA Homebrew sign2 LA Homebrew grains LA Homebrew grains 2 LA Homebrew hops LA Homebrew hops2

 

The Chimes Beer Dinner: April 5th

4 Apr

I don’t typically promote beer dinners, because there tend to be a plethora of them, and I just can’t seem to make them all. But there’s a beer dinner this weekend in Baton Rouge that I couldn’t help but attend. And so should you.

The Chimes Restaurant and Taproom on Highland Road is hosting what will be an epic beer dinner Saturday night, April 5th. The food menu looks to be incredible, and I can vouch for the beer pairings. In fact, beer aficionados in Baton Rouge will not want to miss this one. Check out the menu below. There are a couple of beers on it that are rare in these parts, and well worth the $45 per person.

The Chimes Beer Dinner Menu

The Chimes Beer Dinner Menu

I can assure you that the beer pairing with the entree is one that you won’t want to miss. I’d love to tell you what it is, but I am sworn to secrecy. Let’s just say that the checkered flag will be waved for it. And every other beer on the pairing menu is fantastic.

Mrs. Ale Runner and I will be in attendance, and I hope to see you downstairs at The Chimes wine cellar for this fantastic pairing of food and craft beer.

Get your tickets at The Chimes before it sells out. And believe me, it will sell out!

Thunderdome: Founders All Day IPA vs. Stone Go To IPA

3 Apr

Today I decided to put a couple of new beers to our market in a head to head battle. Both showed up here in Louisiana this week, and both are versions of the same style, the newly popular session IPA.

Founders All Day IPA is, according to their website, “the beer you’ve been waiting for. Keeps your taste satisfied while keeping your senses sharp. An all-day IPA naturally brewed with a complex array of malts, grains and hops. Balanced for optimal aromatics and a clean finish. The perfect reward for an honest day’s work and the ultimate companion to celebrate life’s simple pleasures.” It weighs in at 4.7% ABV and 42 IBUs.

Here’s Stone’s description of Go To IPA: “Since Day One, we’ve been abundantly forthright and fully transparent about our lust for hops. It’s led us to craft many an IPA, most of them imperial—some intense for their time and all timeless in their intensity. For Stone Go To IPA, we are embracing our hop obsession in a new way, funneling an abundance of lupulin-borne bitterness into a “session” IPA delivering all the fruity, piney character of a much bigger IPA. To accomplish this, we employed “hop bursting,” a new technique wherein an irrational amount of hops is added during the final phase of the brewing process to coax out extreme flavors and aromas while also imparting a burst of desirably pleasant bitterness. The result is an Alpha-acid-rich beer that fans can enjoy more of without missing out on the assertive hop character you, like us, crave. So, sit back and go two with your new everyday go-to IPA and bask along with us in the glory of the almighty hop.” It weighs in at 4.5% ABV and 65 IBUs.

The Founders All Day IPA was poured from a 12-ounce can, and the Stone Go To IPA from a 12-ounce bottle.

Founders All Day IPA vs Stone Go To IPA

Founders All Day IPA vs Stone Go To IPA

Appearance: As you can see from the picture, both are light in color, with the All Day IPA having a bit more amber hue to it. The Go To IPA is brilliantly clear with a golden-orange hue. I lean toward the Stone one here.

Aroma: The All Day IPA has a citrusy aroma that’s understated. There’s a bit of malt sweetness to it as well. The Go To IPA has a pronounced pine aroma with a hint of citrus and little malt. Advantage: Stone

Taste: All Day IPA is a well balanced IPA, with an initial hop flavor that is balanced by the smooth malt finish. On the other hand, the Stone Go To IPA features a brighter hop punch in the mouth, and is decidedly Stone. It has a distinctive pine and grapefruit flavor that is vibrant. The hops are with you from first sip and stick around, despite little to no back end bitterness. Stone wins this one again.

Mouthfeel: The All Day IPA is light bodied with an overall smoothness. The Go To IPA pops in your mouth, even though it’s a light-bodied beer. Truthfully, this one is a draw.

Overall: The All Day IPA lives up to its name. It truly is an IPA I could drink one after another. It’s pleasantly flavorful, but not so much as to get tiresome. The Go To IPA is decidedly more hop forward and it’s actually pretty amazing that they packed so many hops into such a small package. However, I’d be hard pressed to drink more than a couple in a row. This one is a draw as well.

In the end, it’s tough to say which one is the winner. I really enjoy the vibrant hops featured in the Stone Go To IPA. They really shine through, and make for a brilliantly hoppy, yet sessionable beer. But the All Day IPA has the advantage of being the beer that I’d drink one after the other of. It’s also in cans, which makes it really nice for outdoor activities. The price point is a bit lower as well ($20 for 15 cans vs. $11 for 6 bottles). I can see that I’ll drink plenty of both of these beers in the future. It’s nice to finally have a couple options for hoppy beers at a sub-5% ABV here in Louisiana.

If you forced me to pick one, I’d probably go with the Stone, as it is hoppier. But I’ll be perfectly content with either.

But don’t take my word for it. Grab one of each and try them side by side. When you do, let me know what you think.

Founders Brewing hitting shelves and draft lines today

3 Apr

A month ago, news came that Founders Brewing was going to enter Lousiana. Today, Founders beers are hitting the shelves of local grocers and bottle shops and restaurants and bars are tapping their kegs of this Grand Rapids, Michigan craft brewery. I’ve compiled a list of places in and around Baton Rouge, that you can find Founders brews.

Right now, you’ll be able to find four of their flagship beers in package and draft:

  • All Day IPA – Session IPA - The beer you’ve been waiting for. Keeps your taste satisfied while keeping your senses sharp. An all-day IPA naturally brewed with a complex array of malts, grains and hops. Balanced for optimal aromatics and a clean finish. The perfect reward for an honest day’s work and the ultimate companion to celebrate life’s simple pleasures. 4.7% ABV and 42 IBUs.
  • Dirty Bastard – Scotch Ale - So good it’s almost wrong. Dark ruby in color and brewed with seven varieties of imported malts. Complex in finish, with hints of smoke and peat, paired with a malty richness and a right hook of hop power to give it the bad attitude that a beer named Dirty Bastard has to live up to. Ain’t for the wee lads. 8.5% ABV and 50 IBUs.
  • Centennial IPA – India Pale Ale - Get ready to bask in the glory of the frothy head’s floral bouquet. Relish the citrus accents from the abundance of dry hopping. This one’s sweet, yet balanced. Malty undertones shake hands with the hop character for a finish that never turns too bitter. 7.2% ABV and 65 IBUs.
  • Porter – Porter - Pours silky black with a creamy tan head. The nose is sweet with strong chocolate and caramel malt presence. No absence of hops gives Founders’ robust porter the full flavor you deserve and expect. Cozy like velvet. It’s a lover, not a fighter. 6.5% ABV and 45 IBUs
Founders display at Calandro's Supermarket

Founders display at Calandro’s Supermarket

Each of these is available in 6-pack bottles at retailers like Calandro’s Supermarket, Alexander’s Highland Market, LeBlanc’s Supermarkets, Cuban Liquor, The Beverage Store, and Matherne’s Supermarket. All Day IPA can also be found in a Brewer’s Dozen 15-pack of cans. This is a great option for outdoor activities now that spring has sprung!

All Day IPA cans - 15 pack!

All Day IPA cans – 15 pack!

These can also be found on tap at The Chimes, The Chimes East, and The Bulldog. The Cove will be putting a one on tap as well.

In addition, Baton Rouge is getting a few specialty kegs. Obviously, the big question everyone wants to know, is “will we get any Kentucky Bourbon Stout (KBS)?” The answer to that is “Yes!”

KBS is is an imperial stout brewed with a massive amount of coffee and chocolates, then cave-aged in oak bourbon barrels for an entire year to make sure wonderful bourbon undertones come through in the finish. Makes your taste buds squeal with delight. It weighs in at a massive 11.2% ABV.

KBS will be tapped tonight (Thursday) at The Cove beginning at 6:30 PM. If you can’t make it there, both The Bulldog and The Chimes East will be tapping kegs in the coming day or two.

The Pelican House will be tapping a keg of Curmudgeon Old Ale. Think classic seafaring ports, local pubs, and weathered old fishermen. This old ale is brewed with molasses and an insane focus on the malt bill, then oak-aged. The result is a strong, rich, malty delight that’s deceptively smooth and drinkable. It’s a mere 9.8% ABV.

Finally, sometime late next week, The Chimes on Highland will get a keg of their famous Breakfast Stout. The coffee lover’s consummate beer. Brewed with an abundance of flaked oats, bitter and imported chocolates, and Sumatra and Kona coffee, this stout has an intense fresh-roasted java nose topped with a frothy, cinnamon-colored head that goes forever. This is one of my favorite Founder’s beers, and it weighs in at 8.3% ABV.

I’m very excited to finally have Founders Brewing here in Louisiana, and I hope you are as well.

Zapp’s International Beer Festival is Saturday

27 Mar

If you’re in the Baton Rouge area, and looking for something beer related to do this weekend, come check out the Zapp’s International Beer Festival on Saturday afternoon from 3:30 until 6:00. Zapp’s is, in my opinion, the premier beer fest in Louisiana. It’s a non-profit event, supporting the Rural Life Museum, and is held on the grounds of the museum. The setting is just perfect, there’s plenty of room to spread out, and it’s nice to enjoy the fresh air on a beautiful spring afternoon.

Many of the local breweries will be in attendance, pouring their beers. I’m looking forward to visiting with my friends from Parish, Tin Roof, Chafunkta and others at the festival.

Since this is a non-profit event, homebrewers are allowed to serve their beer, and that’s what makes this event so great. Baton Rouge is home to three separate homebrew clubs, and each will have a setup to serve numerous brews. Redstick Brewmasters, Bicycle Brew Club and Brasseurs a la Maison will each be pouring many great homebrewed beers.

You can’t miss the Brasseurs a la Maison canoe, and they even have a dedicated mobile website which details all the beers available at their setup. Click here on Saturday afternoon to get a full list and descriptions of the nearly 40 beers they will have available. You can even rate the beers on the site so you’ll remember your favorites.

Brasseurs canoe

The Brasseurs a la Maison canoe tap

I’m a member of Brasseurs a la Maison, and I brewed a beer to serve this weekend, under my Running Monk Brewing Company label. Actually, I served it last weekend at the FORGE Racing Equinox trail race that I’m co-race director of, as well as back in January at the Dirty Soles trail race. That first batch came out so good, that I knew I had to brew it for Zapp’s. What is it, you ask? It’s a coffee vanilla porter, named The Mighty Quinn. It uses dark roasted coffee from my buddy Cesar Torres of Q50 Coffees (and Q50 Races) and vanilla puree from Baton Rouge’s own Red Stick Spice Company. All the other ingredients for the beer were purchased from Baton Rouge’s newest homebrew supply shop, LA Homebrew. It’s a robust porter, aged on cacao nibs, with the coffee and vanilla added at the time the beer is kegged. The coffee is cold steeped for 24 hours, filtered, then added directly to the keg with the vanilla puree. This allows all the great coffee flavors to shine through, without any of the coffee bitterness and astringency associated with brewing it hot. The beer pours a very dark black, and weighs in at 7.1% ABV. For you beer nerds out there, you can check in to The Mighty Quinn on Untappd here. I’ve gotten some great feedback on it from both races, and I’m excited to hear what people have to say about it at Zapp’s. Make sure you give it a high rating on the Brasseurs site!

The Mighty Quinn bottles

The Mighty Quinn bottles (no, you can’t find these anywhere)

Tickets to Zapp’s Beer Fest are $35, and the event is open to adults 21 years and older. There’s a limited amount of tickets available (2,000 total), so call the Rural Life Museum or drop by soon to ensure you have a spot.

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