Sept. 19 2014 04:59 PM

Your one-stop shop for hastily formed opinions on beer

judged beers
Photo by Ian Cheesman

There are many beers. I cannot drink them all, but, damn it, for you I'll try.

Booze Brothers' Old Crow IPA (6.2-percent ABV): Deciding what beer I wanted to pair with Labor Day was surprisingly difficult. My first thought was "all of them," but that approach is incredibly expensive and typically comes with legal consequences. Instead, I opted for Old Crow IPA, a medium-ABV beer with big tropical-fruit hop notes. It was a straightforward IPA that didn't feel overwrought or labored, making it a perfect accompaniment for the holiday.

AleSmith's Evil Dead Red (6.66-percent ABV): Evil Dead Red is a seasonal favorite of mine and arguably one of the best beer recipes in the Necronomicon. The ruby-colored tribute to unspeakable demonic forces has a pungent floral aroma and hop punch to match. Its syrupy texture and malt backbone admirably balance that substantial flowery bitterness. At 6.66-percent ABV, this is a beer you can savor during an all-night grave-digging session and be content doing so.

Benchmark Brewing's Dubbel (7.5-percent ABV): Most Benchmark beers have pretty unassuming names. The beer is their sole representative of the eponymous style, and that's all there is to it. I can respect that, though I can't help but think the brewery would do well to hire a hype man to play it up. I'd wager Flavor Flav is available if there's any interest. In any case, this dubbel doesn't need a lot of pretense. It's sweet with a notable molasses, berries and brown-sugar character, but it's not cloying or heavy. It undeniably scratches that dubbel-itch and delivers to the standard.

Montejo (4.5-percent ABV): I gave this InBev import every reasonable chance to succeed, I really did. I waited until an extremely hot day to enjoy it, assuring that I had a substantial thirst to slake. I had several beers beforehand, all but guaranteeing that Beer Snob Ian was quieted enough to allow "More Alcohol! Woo!" Ian to emerge. So, when I raised this cerveza clara to my lips, it had very little to do to impress me. And it didn't. It tastes like Meyer-lemon-infused seltzer water. This straw-colored beer certainly looks the part but delivers even less than I expected. The finish is slightly sweet, which actually diminishes its viability as something to sip in the sweltering heat. It doesn't taste bad in any way, but it sure doesn't taste right.

Twisted Manzanita Ales' Iron Mountain IPA (6.8-percent ABV): This copper IPA has a big nose of flowers and red peppers. It's full-bodied with a robust assortment of hop flavors, most prominently featuring pine and oranges with hints of pepper and fruit. It tastes a smidge boozy but not to the point of distraction. It has all the presence of an Imperial Red but tilts the balance just enough toward the hops to keep its rep intact. Not to put too fine a point on it—this is a mighty fine IPA.

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