Sumi Zest Imperial Stout brewed by Grimm Artisan Ales

Sumi Zest, Grimm Artisan Ales, New York

(C) 2017 popsonhops

Tasting: February 7, 2017
Style: American Double / Imperial Stout
Beer #: 1,036
ABV: 11.5%

Sumi Zest

The family recently spent a walking around day in New York City. Primarily to meet up with a visiting relative from Wales but of course, we each had our own side agenda. The kids were thrilled to be playing Pokemon Go and I was happy to search for a decent beer store in the general vicinity. This time, I discovered the Urban Barley Beer Market on 6th Avenue. Not a sizable place, probably the equivalent of one aisle at a suburban beer store. Good selection. Almost fainted at the prices. A single can of Barrel-Aged Ten Fidy – 97 Points was $20. I was interested to find some Grimm IPA but this was all the Grimm the shop had. This bomber-sized bottle was $20.

Opened a few weeks later on a cold winter’s night. I am hopeful as I have a second bottle that I picked up a week later. That one was half the price at Cable Beverage.

Sumi Zest hits the ground running with a chalky fudge. Also carries some off-flavors underneath. The label says orange zest, I think Banana. Watery, Fizzy and acrid. Not much vanilla. Layer some coffee over that odd flavor. 84 points. Not a fan. Anyone interested in a bottle?

Visit Grimm Website

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Hype Train Triple IPA, Magnify Brewing Company Single, Double, Triple IPA

Hype Train Triple IPA by Magnify Brewing.

(C) 2017 popsonhops

Tasting: February 5, 2017
Style: Triple IPA
Beer #: 1,035
ABV: 10%

Hype Train

For centuries, beer has utilized unique systems to indicate ranges of alcoholic strength. Belgian monasteries would mark barrels of ale with crosses and each additional cross would signify an increased alcoholic strength. Scottish ales still are referred to in terms of schillings. It’s a reference to a tax on beer. For example, a 70 schilling ale would be lower in ABV than a 90 schilling ale. In either case, it isn’t linear or an exact science as a double isn’t twice the alcohol. Today, you’ll see beer (usually IPA) labeled as double or triple or just imperial. In short, it usually indicates an elevated variation.

This beer is labeled as a triple IPA and it checks in at a robust 10% ABV. Wow, that’s a really big beer. It comes from polarizing local brewery, Magnify Brewing in Fairfield, NJ. Polarizing might be too strong a term as there are just a few vocal social media haters out there. The lines at the brewery speak to the contrary.

Brewery notes that this beer is aged on guava and passionfruit. Mostly acrid citrus and not much else. I have to say that this is a very unique beer. I don’t think I’ve ever had a beer so far back palate that the bitterness strikes the throat. Seems like a bad place for bitterness and booziness. Not their best effort. In conclusion, Hype Train gets 86 points. Mostly for originality.

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Smell Ya Later, Magnify – Finback Collaboration Dank. Made in Jersey!

Smell Ya Later by Magnify Brewing in collaboration with Finback Brewing

(C) 2017 popsonhops

Tasting: February 2, 2017
Style: Imperial IPA
Beer #: 1,034
ABV: 9.5%

Smell Ya Later

Lately, I’ve come across a number of very nice low bitterness beer. These particular beers still use hops but the hops present themselves as being “dank”. First of all, dankness is not a new beer quality. If you hear the term dank, it typically describes a musty, smokey, resinous flavor. Reminds many of pot and as it turns out this comparison isn’t surprising. A 2002 study confirmed that Humulus (hops) and Cannabis (pot) were closely related and part of the same family known as Cannabinaceae.

Seems like the connection to pot isn’t lost in some of the dank beer on the market. Of course, the government doesn’t allow drugs as part of beer names so, brewers use innuendo. First one that comes to mind is Square Grouper (Pipeworks & 4 Hands) – 96 points. A square grouper is the term is used by the Coast Guard to describe wayward bales of pot floating in the ocean. Dark Horse gives us Smells Like a Safety Meeting – 92 points which I came to learn is slang for taking a pot smoking break at work. Lagunitas reminds me that they give us an annual release called Undercover Investigation Shut Down Ale – 90 Points. That name describes the humorous real-life story of a pot smoking investigation of Lagunitas brewery tours that temporarily shut down the brewery. Lagunitas also gives us a pot reference with The Waldos – 92 points . While attending high school in the early 1970’s a group of four boys known as The Waldos created the pot-related term “420” or “time to get high”.

Read on for my thoughts on this local brew…

Magnify Finback Smell Ya Later Imperial IPA

(C) 2017 popsonhops

Waited on line for an hour plus at the brewery on release day. The owner cut the limits down right as we hit the door. It was just as well as I only wanted two four-packs anyway. I totally understand wanting everyone to have a chance. This beer is made in collaboration with “trendy hot” NYC brewer, Finback. Apparently, this was a creation for the annual Extreme Beer Fest in Boston. Label notes it is made with honey and an unnamed experimental hop. Really well-balanced. Has all the right dank qualities. Scary drinkable for a 9.5% ABV beer.

In conclusion, Smell Ya Later gets a very solid 95 points.

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Hazelnut Spread Porter by Brew Bus Brewing Not another one with nuts!

Hazelnut Spread Porter by Brew Bus (brewed by Brew Hub)

(C) 2016 popsonhops

Tasting: January 28, 2017
Style: Hazelnut Porter
Beer #: 1,033
ABV: 6.5%

Hazelnut Spread Porter by Brew Bus (brewed by Brew Hub)

This beer is from a bus for hire company and it is brewed by a brewery for hire company.

Here’s a little about Brew Bus from their website:

The Brew Bus fermented in 2011 when our Founder Anthony Derby was a student at The University of Colorado. When he tried to visit 3 breweries in one day he quickly realized the need for a transportation service. Flash forward just 4 years and we have 1 tour location and offer visits to over 100 different breweries and other destinations in Florida. We have introduced thousands of tourists and locals to our area’s breweries and we’re just getting started.

This beer is brewed by Brew Hub from Lakeland, Florida. Contract brewing isn’t a new concept. Nomadic brewers like Evil Twin, Grimm and Mikkeller regularly use capacity availability from breweries like Westbrook and Two Roads to create their beer. Brew Hub is a brewery and distribution for hire company and notable breweries use them to amplify availability. I noted in a previous entry that Toppling Goliath uses this same Florida facility to produce Pseudo Sue – 93 points. Brew Hub helped Toppling Goliath amplify their production by seven-fold. Thinking of starting your own brewery, using a company like Brew Hub might be a logical first step.

Once again brewed with cacao nibs, hazelnut and vanilla. Pours a transparent cola brown color. Overall, I’d describe it as having a watery body and muted flavors. Does have a wisp of nutty flavor but not really discernible as being hazelnut. Again, some minor roasted flavor. Balanced, not offensive but not exceptional either. A very “meh” 84 points. Sorry to end my hazelnut run on a low point.

Read more about Brew Bus and Brew Hub:

Brewery For Hire!

Find Out About Brew Bus Tours!

Next up a whole series of beer using brazil nuts. Actually, that’s not true. Until next time, cheers.

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Westbrook 6th Anniversary Chocolate Hazelnut Stout This is getting nuts!

Westbrook 6th Anniversary Chocolate Stout

(C) 2017 popsonhops

Tasting: January 27, 2017
Style: Russian Imperial Stout aged on hazelnut, cacao nibs and vanilla beans
Beer #: 1,032
ABV: 10%

Westbrook 6th Anniversary Hazelnut Chocolate Imperial Stout

Let’s forget that this is my third straight hazelnut beer and let’s talk about cacao nibs. As you probably know, chocolate is made from cacao. The cacao pods grow on trees and the pods contain cacao beans. The nibs are simply cacao beans that have been roasted, separated from their husks and broken into smaller pieces. Essentially, raw chocolate minus the fat and sugar additives that make commercial chocolate sweet and creamy. In addition to chocolate flavor, a beer that adds cacao nibs might also have some nutty flavor. At one time, I was confused by cacao and cocoa and wondered if they were the same thing. Cocoa is the term used to refer to cacao that has been heated at a higher temperature and comes in the familiar powdered form.

Now onto the beer. This was a squealer fill from Cable Beverage. In case you didn’t know, a squealer is a 32 ounce container where a growler is a 64 ounce container. I popped it open a few hours after the fill.

It’s bit of a let down and I am thankful that I opted for the squealer. On the plus side there is some chocolate sweetness and mellow roasted flavors. I’ll also give it props on it’s slick mouthfeel. On the negative side, I have to ask myself if I really can taste any hazelnut. One more negative is the astringent booziness. It runs this beer over. I was really hoping for a crisp nuttiness but my hazelnut streak ends at two. Next up Brew Bus Hazelnut Spread Porter. As far as Westbrook 6th Anniversary Chocolate Hazelnut Stout, I’ll put it at 87 points.

While you’re here why not check out my thoughts on Westbrook 5th Anniversary – 91 Points. That one fared a little better.

Cheers. Have you had this beer? Let me know your thoughts.

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Vanilla Hazelnut Marshal Zhukov by Cigar City and the flavor of the week is...hazelnut

Vanilla Hazelnut Marshal Zhukov by Cigar City Brewing

(C) 2017 popsonhops

Tasting: January 14, 2017
Style: Russian Imperial Stout
Beer #: 1,031
ABV: 11.2%

Vanilla Hazelnut Marshal Zhukov

Totally by coincidence, I’m popping open another beer with hazelnut. The other day was Hazel’s Nuts – 93 points and today I am on to a another nutty variation. Remember beer number 999? It was none other than the original Marshal Zhukov – 93 points. This time the World War II general is presented with vanilla and hazelnut. Cigar City hails from Florida and availability is limited to just six states (sorry, not in NJ). But check shelves in New York and Pennsylvania. At $22 per bottle, some may still be hanging out.

Reading the label and I see there is a sentence in Russian. Of course, I’m curious and thankful for technology. According to Google Translate, the quote attributed to Georgy Zhukov goes “There is stuff in Russia that are not what they appear”. I don’t think the general said stuff but he did say “things”. Close enough.

While a lot of other stouts overpower with their adjuncts, the vanilla and hazelnut in this robust stout take very complimentary positions. A crisp roasted flavor that combines some creamy chocolate, coffee and what I’d call a hint of something vegetative – like a moss. In conclusion, I’ll put this variation one tick ahead of the original, 94 points. Okay, we’re two for two with hazelnut adjuncts. I have two more in the wings. Stay tuned.

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Hazel’s Nuts Bourbon Barrel Aged Stout with Hazelnut Flavoring by Oddside Ales Don't get run over by a two-foot tall woman.

Hazel's Nuts by Oddside Ales

(C) 2017 popsonhops

Tasting: January 20, 2017
Style: Imperial Stout aged in bourbon barrels
Beer #: 1,030
ABV: 10%

Hazel’s Nuts

First of all, forget any clown phobia. I love clowns. Rather the side-show acts are my undoing. Not so much that the oddities cause me fear but rather the sense of exploitation and pity are so depressing. I had hoped that a lot of it was fake yet I came face to face with reality a few years ago. It was almost closing time at the Meadowland’s Fair and a fast charging electric wheelchair was barreling down right at me. As it got closer, I realized that the driver was probably less than two feet tall. She almost ran me over. She was real and she nearly killed me.

As far as bearded women, they are real. While I let you conjure up a Walmart image in your head, I’ll offer an interesting story of one of the first side-show bearded women. Oh, the things we learn from beer. P.T. Barnum and Annie Jones

So, let’s get onto the beer. Love the label since it has that authentic carny sideshow poster feel. Like the tag line, “life is sweeter when it’s covered in debauchery.” I’ll also note that Hazel’s Nuts is formerly known as Ahh Nuts! when it was released as a draft only offering. This bottle was a bonus beer in a trade for some Trillium bottles last summer. This trader sent me some excellent bonus bottles.

Holy hazelnut aroma! Wow! Smooth mouthfeel. Dominant hazel nut and bakers chocolate flavor. Nuttiness seems genuine and yet very complimentary. Seems like no barrel influence at all. Also, a tad hot on the finish yet it doesn’t hinder the experience. In conclusion, 93 points. Have one for dessert. What a fun beer.

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Rock Me Dr. ‘Saic by Magnify

Rock Me Dr. 'Saic Double IPA brewed by Magnify Brewing Company

(C) 2017 popsonhops

Tasting: January 8, 2017
Style: Imperial IPA
Beer # 1,029
ABV:8.0%

Rock Me Dr. ‘Saic

I arrived a half-hour before opening and the line was about 50 people deep. At the opening, the line moved fast and I was on my way home within the hour. One particularly positive and surprising event of the experience was when the woman who took my order thanked me and apologized. I asked why? She said that she was sorry that I had to wait. That was really sweet and totally goes against some of the feedback I read about this brewery. Frankly, I did not mind and actually I was happy to be there on that line. I think this young, up and coming brewery has finally provided me with local brewery within a short drive that produces world-class beer.

My interest in this release was really heightened by my experience with the release of the “single” strength version Magnify Dr. ‘Saic – 93 points That offering was 5.9% ABV and Rock Me Dr. ‘Saic checks in at 8.0%. I’d expect the same hop profile intensified with a stronger malt base. We’ll see.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t make the connection of this beer’s name to the character in Planet of the Apes Dr. Zaius. “Get your stinking paws off me, you damn dirty ape.” Sometimes the sequel doesn’t match up with the original. I think this is the case with Rock Me Dr. ‘Saic. Don’t get me wrong, the hop profile equals the original, I’m just nitpicking on the bready cardboard-like grains underneath. Would have wowed with some juicy sweetness. Still a real nice offering from this local brewery. In conclusion, 91 points.

I’ll be back in line for the next offering. Maybe I’ll see you there.

Want to keep up with the latest news and releases from Magnify Brewing. They do a good job updating via the Magnify Twitter Feed

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Peak Oil IPA by Magnify Brewing

Peak Oil Imperial IPA by Magnify Brewing, Fairfield, NJ

(C) 2016 popsonhops

Tasting: November 30, 2016.
Style: American Double/Imperial IPA
Beer # 1,028
ABV: 9.0%

Peak Oil IPA

Some beer enthusiasts incorrectly state the history of the original India Pale Ales. They claim these ales had an elevated alcohol content because the higher ABV preserved the beer for its long voyage to India. However, these ales were mostly the same or slightly elevated when compared to other pale ales of the 18th century. Actually, the additional hops were probably more beneficial. Because hops are a natural preservative. Most of all, hops are also antibacterial in nature.

Similar fallacies are also attributed to Russian Imperial Stout. Rather than preserving, The higher alcohol kept the beer from freezing while being transported to Russia. Also, Russians liked their beer dark and strong.

Peak Oil IPA by Magnify Brewing Company

(C) 2016 popsonhops

This offering is from Fairfield’s Magnify Brewing. Wow. Look at that color. That’s opaque. Amongst other hops it is made with lupulin powder and hop oil. Lupulin is a yellowish and bitter powder found beneath the scales of the flowers of the female hop plant.

Massive citrus aroma. Acrid yet pithy hops out of the gate. Some melon flavors. Seems like mosaic. Surprisingly smooth and crushable for a 9.0% ABV beer. The hops fall off surprisingly fast. Most of all, a very nice offering from the young upstart brewery. In conclusion, Peak Oil IPA gets a 93. I really like the direction of this brewery.

While you’re here, check out the brewery’s website

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Surly Abrasive an American Double/Imperial IPA

Abrasive Ale an Imperial IPA by Surly Brewing, Minnesota

(C) 2016 popsonhops

Tasting: December 27, 2016
Style: American Double/Imperial IPA
Beer #: 1,028
ABV: 9.0%

Surly Abrasive

In January 2004, Omar Ansari proposed the idea of converting the family’s abrasives business into a brewing operation. With his parent’s blessings, he and head brewer Todd Haug began Surly Brewing. Two years later, they delivered the first kegs of Surly Furious to local bars. Omar describes bar owners spitting out samples of his beer. Thankfully, they pressed on and bar owners ultimately came around to their beer.

In October of 2016, Todd Haug left Surly. Most think that a lack of a stake in the $35m brewery was the cause. Some think Surly’s firing of Linda Haug drove the pair to the open arms of Three Floyds in Indiana. Whatever the reason, it will be interesting to see the changes at both breweries.

The most noteworthy item about this beer is the addition of oatmeal. At one time, oatmeal was a common ingredient and it was said that using too much would cause a bitterness beyond the tolerance of era. In the early 20th century, brewers touted oatmeal as a healthy holistic medicine until the British government moved to ban any advertisement that made this claim. Today, oatmeal is added to beer since its lipids will lend to a slick mouthfeel.

Finally, on to the tasting. It has more citrus in the aroma and you can almost smell the bitterness. First of all, I’ll say that Surly Abrasive delivers a flavorful punch. Assertive grapefruit, tangerine and minor tropical fruit notes almost eclipse a sweet candy undertone. Maybe a little too much unstructured bitterness. In conclusion, Surly Abrasive scores 94 in my book.

Finally, read about a couple more offerings from Surly:

Furious – 90 Points
Bender – 87 Points
Darkness – 96 Points
Todd The Axeman – 95 points
Overrated – 88 points

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