Variations on a Theme (Part II)

So this is another IPA mix pack, this time from Sierra Nevada, the number two volume craft brewery in the US (behind Sam Adams/Boston Beer Co) and a consistent favorite of mine.  The mix pack comes under the name 4-Way IPA, IMG_0274and like the previous IPA mix pack from Harpoon it consists of four different beer styles that have in common the hop-forward flavor profile that characterizes an IPA.

What was nice about having this one come in quick succession after Harpoon was that it gave me a chance to do nearly one-to-one comparisons of comparable beers from two of the bigger craft breweries.  (I didn’t take the next logical step, which would be to do a blind side-by-side tasting–maybe I’ll save that exercise for some future date.)  Two of the four beers are pretty directly comparable, since each pack contained a black IPA and a wit IPA, while the other two from this set were a bit different from the remainder of the Harpoon.

We can start with the two that don’t have easy comparisons.  One of these is a year-round standard offering that Sierra Nevada calls Torpedo Extra IPA.  IMG_0282The “torpedo” is a device they came up with for dry-hopping the beer by circulating the fermenting beer under pressure through a stainless steel casing packed with hops.  I’ve had this one before and I think of it as a summer beer where the pine note of the hops is the most prominent flavor element.  This is one I enjoy enough that I will pick up a six- or twelve-pack to have on hand, once I get through this year-long exploration.

The other one that I can’t compare directly with Harpoon is another session beer that they call Nooner.IMG_0276  (Note: just because it’s summer vacation, that doesn’t mean I’m drinking beer starting at noon, unless I am either watching sports on TV or getting together with friends for an afternoon party.  All of these were consumed at dinnertime.)  The picture shows that this was a pretty fizzy beer, but other than that I don’t remember anything particularly distinctive about this one, which means I probably wouldn’t seek it out, even if they were offering it outside this mix pack which I don’t know that they are.

Snow Wit is the clever name for the white IPA, which did have a counterpart in the Harpoon mix pack.  IMG_0277Like the Harpoon, this one had some wheat in it and had the hazy color of an unfiltered beer.  The wheat was not much in evidence, though, and I found this one to be a pretty enjoyable beer, at least as good as the Harpoon Long Thaw.  The Sierra Nevada web site also notes that this beer uses several varieties of experimental dwarf hops–Sierra Nevada being at the forefront of the hop emphasis in American craft brewing, it’s not surprising that they continue to seek out different varieties.

The black IPA in this pack is called Blindfold, and while I described the Harpoon black IPA as unmemorable, this one was probably my favorite among the four Sierra Nevada beers.  The dark malt seemed to fall in the coffee part of the flavor spectrum, and it seemed to have a lot more creaminess and body than the Harpoon version.IMG_0287  If I remember correctly, this one emerged from the “Beer Camp” series, which is an interesting story.  Beer Camp lets non-professionals become part of the brewing process, and I have picked up one or two mix packs from previous years that featured creations from the Beer Camp.  Looking at Sierra Nevada’s web site, I see that this year they are doing something they are calling “Beer Camp Across America” where they are collaborating with twelve other craft brewers (including some prominent names like Allagash, Russian River, Victory, and Bell’s, to name a few) which looks like it will be a really special opportunity to try a whole  bunch of different beers–they say release will be in mid-July, so I will be keeping my eyes open.

For now, I’m moving on to a slightly more mixed bag from yet another big-name craft brewery.  In the meantime, these four get the tally up to 78–getting past 100 should be no problem, and it looks like 150 or even 200 might be possible before the end of the calendar year.  Also coming soon may be a book review, since I had some money to spend at a local bookstore in recognition of a significant milestone at work and decided to spend it furthering my beer research.  No travels on the near horizon, but hopefully plenty of warm days that will invite relaxing at home with a cold beer at the end of the day.  Cheers!


Bicycles (and a beer) on Block Island

For such a small state, Rhode Island has a lot of little corners that even long-time residents don’t ever manage to explore. As an inveterate, if sometimes reluctant, traveler (see the closing thoughts from one of my travels here), I take some pride in knowing the state where I have now lived for more than twenty years pretty well, a pride that I share with Dr. Mrs. Dr. Dave.  (Twenty years!? Pretty soon we’ll be up to half my life here–ACK!)  We made our first visit to Block Island with a group of summer research students during our first summer in Rhode Island, and we retreated there for an off-season weekend when I had to decide between accepting my current job or going back to school and training for a totally different career, so although we aren’t regular visitors, we have been often enough to get to know a little bit about the island, and we’re surprised whenever we meet someone local who has never taken the one hour ferry ride to this little pile of glacial till just beyond the eastern tip of Long Island.

In that spirit, Dr. Mrs. Dr. Dave made plans with the four young women doing research in her lab this summer to play hooky from the lab for a day (ostensibly to collect soil samples–you always need an excuse for a boondoggle) and go on an expedition.  It was a chaotic morning, since we had to first pack son G off on a school-organized trip to the old city of Quebec, then meet up with the young ladies outside the fitness center to help transport their rented bicycles and caravan down to the ferry dock at Point Judith in time to make the 8:30 ferry.  It didn’t help that the weather forecast had dramatically turned overnight from “10% chance of showers” to “It’s going to rain off and on until sometime around noon–or maybe later!”  (OK, the latter isn’t a direct quote from the Weather Channel, but it might as well have been, from our perspective, during the soggy drive southward.)  Even so, student Heloise (who promises that she will have a complementary blog post here eventually) was relentlessly optimistic during the ferry ride, and the semi-native fellow travelers on the ferry promised that it would clear up around noon, so we watched the island emerge from the mist and resolved to make the best of what nature was going to give us.

Block Island is only about ten square miles, so a bike is a perfectly adequate way to see almost anything on the island, even if you aren’t a serious cyclist.  Our general itinerary for the day was to ride from the ferry dock to the north end of the island and back (along the only paved road that runs that direction), then do a counter-clockwise circuit around the more settled southern end of the island, for a total distance of about 18 miles. For the record (in case the funding agency gets wind of this), four soil samples were collected at various places on the island, mostly in fairly sandy beach soil.  Also for the record, the ferry-riders were correct and it did clear up around noon, though not before we got soggy enough that we took a late morning break for a warm drink at a small coffee shop back in town.

The most spectacular spot on the island is arguably the area known as the Mohegan Bluffs on the south-facing coast.  There is a steep drop-off of over 100 feet from the main road to the ocean below, and the area is sufficiently eroded that the south lighthouse had to be moved back from the edge a few years ago so it wouldn’t simply tumble into the Atlantic Ocean.  (As you look southward, the next landfall would appear to be somewhere on the island of Hispaniola, so there’s a lot of ocean to tumble into!)  There’s a long stairway down from the parking lot, followed by a scramble over some boulders to get to the rocky beach where we took some pictures, admired the cairns that had been left by previous beach visitors, and enjoyed the fact that the sun was finally shining.

After our bike ride, we were ready for a late lunch, and the college women happily agreed with the suggestion from son S of pizza for lunch.  Papa’s Pizzeria was just outside the main business district on the road north, near Crescent Beach, and they had outdoor seating, which seemed like a great idea now that the sun was out.  Our group of seven shared two large Margherita pizzas (basil and fresh mozzarella) on a thin (Neapolitan?) crust.  The college students all had Del’s frozen lemonade (a Rhode Island tradition, though not the official state beverage–that honor goes to coffee milk, but that’s another story), Dr. Mrs. Dr. Dave had her customary Pinot Grigio, and I chose a can of Hurricane Amber Ale from Newport Storm brewery (going along with the local Rhode Island theme, I suppose, but also because it was the most interesting choice available).  IMG_0286[1]The good news here is that I didn’t notice any allergic reaction as I had from another Newport Storm beer back in the wintertime.  The bad news is that even a pretty good beer in a can still tastes noticeably like the can, so as enjoyable as the rest of the day was, the beer (number 74, since we’re still counting) was not the high point.

But beer doesn’t always need to be the high point of the day.  After lunch, we wandered over to the beach so the students could enjoy a quick splash, then re-organized ourselves and headed back to the dock for the 3:30 ferry back to the mainland, since various obligations were calling several of the students back to campus or to home.  The weather remained clear enough that we could soak up some sun (too much in my case) on the outside upper deck of the ferry and watch as the island faded into the haze.  The nice part, however,  is that Block Island isn’t some magical Brigadoon–it’s always there just off the south coast of New England, as an inviting destination for a day trip.  It was fun to have an excuse to introduce another generation of research students to this little getaway spot and to be able to serve as tour guides for a day.  Today it was back to the lab for them, and back to yard work for me (well, the World Cup is going on, so maybe not all that much yard work!), but yesterday’s expedition was a great way to spend what would otherwise have been a pretty ordinary summer Thursday.

Hope there’s a fun day trip in the offing wherever you’re reading this.  Cheers!


Father’s Day Smorgasbeers

Father’s Day is never a big deal in our household–often somebody is out of town or there are other distractions.  This year it was even less of a celebration since Dr. Mrs. Dr. Dave was at a genomics workshop in DC and son G was attending the festivities for twin classmates who were celebrating their B’nai Mitzvah, so it was just son S and me for dinner.  He indulged me by letting me choose where to have dinner out (since cooking for two is a chore), so we ended up at Doherty’s Irish Pub, with probably the largest selection of draft beers for several miles.  IMG_0280The photo here is the draft beer menu, which supports their claim of something around eighty different draft beers, organized by flavor profile for easy choosing.

Since I’m going for variety, I went with a flight of four beers (they also offer a flight of six if you prefer) from four different breweries (all of them familiar) and four different styles to see if I could find something that would be a standout for future reference.  Sadly, nothing really rose to the top of this group, but that’s why it’s great to try a sampler of several different beers.  You can see the order form and a pen at the top right of the first photo–you can choose any of the draft beers from the extensive menu (a few cost $1.50 extra) and you get a 5 oz. serving of each of your choices, which the server brings to you on a wooden paddle with holes cut to support the glasses.

IMG_0281Starting lower left and moving clockwise, my four beers were “Road Jam” from Two Roads, “Summerfest” from Sierra Nevada, “Riptide” from Heavy Seas. and an Irish Stout from Harpoon.  (The rainbow of colors was totally unintentional, though it is neat to be outside in full sunlight and really see the differences with them all lined up!)  I will note that all the beers were a little warmer than I would have liked (even though they are advertised as “ice cold draughts”), so maybe that had some effect on my perceptions.  I ended up drinking from lightest to darkest (so left-right and top-bottom in the picture), starting with the Sierra Nevada.  The Summerfest was nice and light, with a reasonable amount of fizz and nothing exceptional about the flavor profile.  The Riptide is described on the Heavy Seas website as a  “lightly filtered” white IPA,  but the photo clearly shows that it still has some of the opacity (or maybe opalescence) that is characteristic of a wit bier, though it did have more of a hops edge than a typical wheat beer might have, and the wheat finish wasn’t too noticeable.  The “jam” in the Road Jam was more literal than I realized–the ruby-red color in the photo is from raspberries which are used to provide a different style of fruit (compared to the usual citrus) to complement the wheat flavors here.  Combining fruit and wheat means that two styles I usually avoid were fused here, so it’s no surprise that this was my least favorite of the evening.  The stout was a nice finish, and since S and I didn’t go for dessert (the portions of fish & chips for him and Jamaican influenced “Rasta Pasta” with chicken for me were sufficiently generous that we had lunch for the next day), the chocolate flavors from the dark malt were a nice conclusion to the meal.

Upcoming (soon) posts will include a combination beer and travel entry and a second round of variations on an IPA theme.  For now, these four bring the tally up to 73 (with several more that haven’t made it onto the blog yet).  More new beers coming soon.  Cheers!


New Beers and New Friends

This post will be a little different, since circumstances this week took some of my focus (most of it in fact) away from beer to professional matters. Because of this, and because I don’t have pictures, I will instead tie the different beers I tried to the activities of my week, which included some intense work but also the opportunity to re-connect with some professional acquaintances and to forge some new connections that I hope to renew at this time next year.

My week was spent in Louisville, KY, where I joined a corps of about 250 chemists (and over 1000 historians) in the process of “reading” (otherwise known as grading) the AP exams of high school students from all over the country. This is my third year of participating in this project, which I alluded to in the previous post as “chemistry teacher boot camp.” What this really means is an intense, seven-day work week in which the free-response portion of nearly 150,000 chemistry exams is scored by experienced AP teachers and college professors who adhere to a tightly scripted rubric in order to make all the students’ grades as uniform as humanly possible. This is done by getting all the bodies together in large convention center rooms, which necessitates travel from all over the country. I flew through Atlanta on a Saturday with a layover long enough for dinner at the Sam Adams location on the C concourse (I think), where I was discouraged to find that the only draft beers were both familiar (the flagship lager and the Rebel IPA).  I soldiered on bravely, however, and enjoyed the Rebel with my pulled pork BBQ sandwich before heading to the gate for my flight and a late evening arrival at my hotel in Louisville.

The pool of readers reported on Sunday morning at 8:00 for a brief welcoming orientation and then dispersed to learn about the specific multi-part question to which each of us was assigned. The remainder of the morning was then spent looking at sample student responses, carefully selected and scrutinized over the preceding couple of days by a small group of seasoned “table leaders,” to point out some of the pitfalls a reader was likely to encounter during the week ahead. (Aside: my general description will be describing the way things work for the vast majority of readers. This year I was actually part of a small subset of readers who worked on one of the alternative exams given to students who missed the main exam and which included questions that might be re-used in the future, so I’m sworn to secrecy about the questions I actually worked on.) Our workday is tightly scheduled around breaks for lunch and for mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks, so we all emerge from our little groups to congregate around coffee and munchies to reflect on the challenges we have been facing and share war stories before returning to the hushed rooms full of waiting exams.

During the first day, after the leaders are satisfied that we are beginning to understand the rubric, we start by reading with a buddy to make sure that we agree and are watching for the little tricky points we were warned about. In addition, for the first couple of days the leaders spend most of their time “back-reading” to spot-check our work and discuss any discrepancies which they note. Thus the first day goes slowly as we get to know our table-mates and begin to get inside the heads of the range of typical students.

By the end of a busy first day, then, we have reached the point where we need to talk about what we are doing, welcome new readers (“acorns” since they will eventually become great oaks and because an acorn is the College Board’s corporate logo), and connect with our former acquaintances over an adult beverage. I’m not sure if it’s because of geography (far away from the “elitist” coasts), venue (a large convention center), or economics (since the first drink was on the College Board) but the selection of adult beverages was pretty discouraging and I decided to go with the theory that cheap distilled spirits would be more palatable than cheap beer or cheap wine and had a bourbon rather than a beer on Sunday night. The verdict was inconclusive, aside from confirming the general rule that “You get what you pay for”: cheap booze of any variety isn’t very satisfying.

Every night has some sort of social or professional activity once we are off the clock in order to keep us sane, and since the grading gets pretty routine (other than anxiously watching the progress on each question and the occasional adjustment of moving readers between questions to even out the reading rates) I will mostly focus on the evenings, since that’s where the beer comes in. (We were warned in no uncertain terms at the opening meeting that illegal drugs and the consequences of legal drugs, a.k.a. hangovers, were not professional conduct and would not be tolerated.)

Monday night’s activity was a presentation by a representative from the College Board about the ongoing changes both to the general aspects of the AP program and to the specifics of AP Chemistry. The beverage selection wasn’t any better than Sunday, but having discovered that bad booze is still bad booze, and in the interest of further reserach, I went for a Budweiser (the only non-“light” beer available). My beer wasn’t unpleasant, but all the flavor was up front and there wasn’t anything interesting about the finish. That might be fine as a “cool you off on a hot summer day” drink, but that’s not why I drink beer, so I will continue my lifelong avoidance of Bud when there are other options available.

Tuesday night was a presentation by one of the primary architects of the actual chemistry test on how to write multiple choice items (for which the College Board does pay some people). You may be amazed to learn that the College Board actively discourage questions that include prompts that involve negatives (…all of the following except…) or answers that include “all (or none) of the above,” since these are the proverbial bane of test-takers everywhere. I don’t know that I’m feeling inspired to start writing my own multiple choice items, but it was interesting to learn about the philosophy behind how the multiple choice part of the exam is constructed.

After the presentation, I met up with my roommate (also Dr. Dave, a college professor from Long Island and an acquaintance through Dr. Mrs. Dr. Dave who has spent time with him at several biochemistry education conferences) and some other relatively new readers he had become acquainted with. Our new friends (including Jen from North Carolina, Cindy from Arkansas, Dusty from New Jersey, and Dick from Chicago) were on a mission to collect enough stamps in their “Bourbon Trail Passport” to earn a T-shirt from the local tourism office, so we headed out in search of interesting bourbon drinks and to enjoy some camaraderie. In the end, I decided the beer selection was intriguing and went with the bartender’s recommendation of Dale’s Pale Ale, a product of the Oskar Blues Brewery in Colorado, which was a nice English-style Pale Ale (reminiscent of Bass Ale, let’s say) with relatively little carbonation but a pleasant flavor.

Wednesday was the first of our two “dine-out nights” when the cafeteria is closed and College Board gives each reader a budget of up to $25 to pump up the local economy and try some local cuisine. As I had done the previous two years, I ended up (with most of my new friends and a couple of other hangers-on) at the Bluegrass Brewing Company, a local brewpub with three locations around the city. Like the brewpubs I reviewed previously, the food is pretty simple–burgers, sandwiches, and “comfort food”–and the focus is on the beer. This night’s selection was the IPA which was pretty standard with more pine than citrus. I had debated trying their double IPA after dinner, but we did get a late start on dinner (which allowed me to get in my daily 30-40 minutes on the stationary bike at the hotel fitness center) and still had several long days of work ahead, so discretion was probably the right call this time around. We also missed karaoke night at a bar up the street, which was fun the last two years–I guess I’ll have to wait until next year to reprise my performance of Elton John’s Rocket Man.

Thursday is tough because you begin to worry that all the reading might not get done–since the pace accelerates through the first couple of days it’s hard to make accurate projections until the week has progressed pretty far. We ended up working a couple of extra-long shifts by taking 15 minutes out of lunch and adding on 15 minutes to the end of the day just to insure adequate progress was being made, so we were ready for another night of pub-hopping, but we began with a presentation on the history and chemistry of bourbon. The presenter for this “professional night” was a local scientist whose primary vocation is as a consultant to industrial-scale fermentation and distilling operations, primarily in the area of ethanol for fuel. However, if you live in Kentucky and know something about fermentation and distillation, it’s almost natural to try your hand at bourbon production as well. Thus, our presenter has recently begun moonlighting as the operator of Wilderness Trace Distillery which is getting ready to release its first commercial bourbon in a few months, using their expertise to fashion a product with an emphasis on locally sourced ingredients from corn to water to yeast.  We learned about the important role of whiskey in the colonization and westward expansion of the 18th and early 19th centuries, the collapse of the industry during Prohibition, and the current resurgence after a decline during the 1970s, and also about the distinctive chemistry of bourbon relative to other types of whiskey and distilled spirits.

After processing all that information, when we went out afterwards several of us felt obliged to try at least one bourbon drink, though the females had learned to ask, only slightly apologetically, for recommendations along the lines of “girlie” bourbon drinks.  Our first stop was a relatively quiet bar where I let the bartender choose for me and ended up with Rowan’s Creek bourbon, which was sweeter than the scotch I usually prefer, but smoother than the call brand I had tried on Sunday, and I also took a taste of a couple of the other cocktails that my new friends were trying (the Rusty Horseshoe was my favorite, substituting bourbon for the usual combination of scotch with Drambuie in a Rusty Nail).  Then, because my friends were behind schedule on their passport stamps, we wandered up the street to a much livelier place for a nightcap.  Here I chose to go with beer instead of whiskey, settling (in the absence of draft selections) on a bottle of the Brooklyn Summer Ale, which had a more body than I was expecting and a nice lemony citrus bite, confirming my general faith in the quality of Brooklyn Brewery.  The cocktails here got mixed reviews, but the atmosphere was lively and the fries with truffle oil that we shared were exceptional.

Friday the end is in sight, and though most readers have reached the point where they can no longer accelerate, we do reach the point where we are getting disillusioned by the sheer volume of bad chemistry we have to wade through.  A couple more long shifts had us ready for our second dine-out night.  My friends had made plans to visit Churchill Downs, but I stuck to my resolution to hit the fitness center and arranged to meet them for dinner after their tourist diversion.  Dinner was at a place called Doc Crow’s which was set up nicely for large groups (we numbered seven for dinner that night) and which featured a range of traditional Southern cooking.  I enjoyed my Louisiana-style blackened tilapia and dirty rice, accompanied by a couple of local beers (the brewers of which I didn’t write down).  The first was a blonde ale which was OK as a summer beer and the second was an English Brown Ale.  Service was a little chaotic on a busy Friday night, so this one arrived close to the end of the meal, but that actually turned out OK since it was sweet with notes of what I would describe as brown sugar and vanilla, so it helped to think of it as if it were dessert (as if the “hot and gooey” chocolate chip cookies that we shared weren’t enough of a dessert).

Saturday, the only real question was when we were going to finish.  In the spirit of camaraderie, nobody is dismissed until the last folder full of exams has been marked and recorded, so there is a fair amount of time spent sitting around, checking phones, reading, or tidying up eraser crumbs, candy wrappers, and other detritus from a week of sitting at the same table.  This year was later than the previous two and we were finally released late in the afternoon, but still with enough time for me to get in my stationary bike ride back at the hotel before returning to the convention center for cafeteria dinner and a final de-briefing.  Each of the question leaders talked about the pitfalls of their question and sometimes offered a few words of advice for teachers and/or future question writers and then we adjourned downstairs for a final celebration.

Surprisingly, Bombay Sapphire gin was among the other rather ordinary offerings behind the bar, so I sipped a gin and tonic as people began the process of saying good-bye to both old acquaintances and new friends.  Our little group then adjourned up the block to the pedestrian mall known as Fourth Street Live where we ended up at an outside table at Gordon Biersch to enjoy what felt like the official start of summer. Gordon Biersch is another sort of “in between” operation–they have the attitude of a craft brewery but they are pretty widely franchised so they don’t have the local feel of a more independent brew pub.  Since it was a lovely summer evening, I went with the kölsch-style Sommerbrau which went down nicely as we sat and exchanged contact information while  talking about the kind of things you can talk about with people who you have really just met but who somehow feel like old friends.

I have found that feeling does tend to develop when you take people with a common purpose and put them into a situation of intense side-by-side work.  It also helps that we all share the belief that high-school age students are sometimes capable of learning college-level material and that it is worth our time and effort to help sort those who can from those who, for whatever reason (and the reasons are many), aren’t ready yet.  The AP program has changed over the years, but to the extent that it is trying to get students ready for the rigor of college it is a useful program and I’m glad that I have been able to participate.  Making new friends (and having the chance to enjoy some down time with them over an adult beverage or two) is a wonderful added bonus.

And now I’m back home, graduations have happened, and summer starts in earnest with yard work, preparations for the next school year, hopefully some vacation time, and also plenty of occasions to seek out more new beers.  Seven new beers from this week brings the tally up to 69 as we head into summer break.  Cheers!


Aaarrghhh Matey!

Following up on the gimmicks that different breweries to make themselves recognizable, the mix pack I’m reviewing here comes from Heavy Seas Brewing out of Baltimore.  Their gimmick is a pirate (or “pyrate” as they spell it on their web site) theme to the naming and label art of their brews, along with a roguish attitude to their print materials.  Heavy Seas started out as a brewpub (with a different name) in the late ’80s, expanded by taking over another existing brewery in Baltimore, and finally consolidated several different ventures under the increasingly popular Heavy Seas brand.  The Sunken Sampler seems to be a mix of whatever the brewery wants to move, so it varies a bit depending on what the brewery is producing–you may not find all the same beers (though they always helpfully tell you what you’re getting through a set of check-boxes on the outside of the package), although all the beers in this pack were year-round rather than seasonal so you will probably get most of them.

My least favorite beer in this mix was Gold, which is billed as a “session” beer. IMG_0260 Session beers seem to be a growing market segment (or at least I’m seeing the term more often); they tend to be lighter-bodied and, more importantly, tend to have a lower alcohol content since they are intended for a session where one would sit down and drink several beers rather than enjoying just one.  Just to be clear, I’m not complaining about the alcohol content (I’m not sure I can really tell the difference between a beer like this with about 4.5% alcohol and the more typical 7% or so of a lot of craft beers).  What put me off this beer primarily was the wheat finish–this isn’t a purely wheat beer but there was enough wheat in the mix for me to notice.

Powder Monkey is an English style pale ale (the web site notes that they add an American touch with Cascade hops in addition to the standard UK varieties of Fuggles and Golding) which was pleasant but without anything distinctive or memorable. IMG_0261
Loose Cannon is their flagship beer (and doesn’t count toward the tally since I already tried this during a dinner out a couple months ago).  They bill this as a Hop3 IPA due to additions of hops at three points during the brewing process. This is probably one of the better IPAs I’ve tried, although maybe the experience was enhanced by the fact that the last bottle of Loose Cannon accompanied our first outside dinner of the season (burgers and potatoes done on the grill) on Memorial Day–food really does make a difference.

The most distinctive beer in this mix pack was Peg Leg, an imperial stout with a strong malt flavor that reminded me more than anything of blackstrap molasses.  IMG_0258The beer was full-bodied but not necessarily “creamy” like some stouts; all in all an enjoyable experience.

I didn’t feel inspired by any of these to start talking like a “pyrate” or swashbuckling around the neighborhood with an eyepatch, but Heavy Seas is a consistently high quality brewery with a nice variety of styles that I will continue to enjoy, and the three new beers in this group bring the tally for the year up to 62 as I head out on the road for a week of chemistry teacher boot camp (and hopefully a couple of different regional beers).  Cheers!