What else have I been drinking?

Tree House Brewing, Monson, MA
Foothills Bourbon Barrel Aged Sexual Chocolate
Old Man Extra Special Bitter by Tree House Brewing, Charlton, Massachusetts
Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout Rare 2015

Left to Right:

Treehouse Brewing from former location in Monson, MA

Foot Hills Brewing: Bourbon Barrel Aged Sexual Chocolate Imperial Stout
Beer #1,148:
When I started trading, this was an early “must have”. I guess my love of the movie Coming to America motivated me to make sure I had this in my cellar…”that boy is good” To be fair, I’ve had this for about three years and I had higher expectations for the experience. Came across a bit thin, smokey acrid, some raisin. I’ll put Sexual Chocolate at 90 points.

Treehouse Brewing: Old Man (#1,149).
Beer #1,149:
If a restaurant is known for a certain dish…you order that dish no? Well, Treehouse is known for high quality New England style IPAs and some nice stouts. An English-style extra special bitter (ESB)? In unusual style, it took them a few weeks to sell this one out. I guess that proves my point. I’m willing to give Old Man a chance but it lacks in any malty characteristics rather has a plastic-like chemical flavor with off yeasty fruits. 85 points.

Goose Island 2015 Bourbon County Brand Stout Rare:
Beer #1,150:
There is a great story around this release. How could the brewery follow up on the 2010 version that was aged in 23 year old Pappy Van Winkle bourbon barrels? Well as the story goes, the folks at Heaven Hill Brewing found some barrels that had been aging bourbon for 35 years. It seems that these may have been forgotten as it’s unusual for bourbon to age more that 23 years. The “rare” comes from the barrels used, and these are rare gems indeed.

Of course, “rare” also translates into the ability to charge an inflated price. This bottle of Goose Island 2015 Bourbon County Brand Stout Rare is probably the most expensive bottle of beer I’ve ever had. Retailed for about $60 – $70. It comes in a nice wooden box. While it makes a nice presentation, it didn’t help tame the overpowering boozy whiskey flavors. Has some underlying char, oak and dark fruit. While others might have to equate cost with liking the beer…this was a gift and I’ll call it as I see it. Needs more balance. Goose Island 2015 Bourbon County Brand Stout Rare, 90 points.

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Treehouse Abstraction Vanilla & Abstraction Coffee Imperial Porters

Treehouse Brewing, Abstraction Vanilla & Abstraction Coffee

(C) 2018 popsonhops

Treehouse Abstraction Coffee
Beer #: 1,146
Tasting: December 20, 2018
Style: Imperial Porter
ABV: 8.8%

Has a bit of an acrid flavor quality that cuts through flavors like a knife. Most likely the coffee bitterness and the alcohol ethers working in conjunction. A bit distracting as it mutes everything else down a few pegs. On the plus side, it has cocoa and nutty undertones but conversely I would like some more of a creamy mouthfeel with more mocha quality but it just wasn’t there. Still nice but only 90 points from me.

Treehouse Abstraction Vanilla
Beer #: 1,147
Tasting: December 28, 2018
Style: Imperial Porter
ABV: 8.8%

This is the clear winner when comparing these two imperial porters. Much smoother with just enough vanilla to make it push it to decadent. Not sure why this one presents more creamy than the coffee version, but it does. Like its counterpart, some nutty and cocoa flavors. I’ll push Treehouse Abstraction Vanilla a couple ticks ahead of its coffee counterpart. 92 points.

Thanks Mark for picking these up…glad you made it.

 

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Tree House Triple Shot Pure Heaven!

Triple Shot Coffee Stout by Tree House Brewing, Charlton, Massachusetts

(C) 2018 popsonhops

Tree House Triple Shot
Beer #: 1,145
Style: Imperial Stout

From the Brewery:
2014 saw the creation and evolution of one of our proudest accomplishments here at Tree House: Double Shot. Over the year we often wondered how far we could push the coffee and still maintain a balanced and delightful beer. In the spirit of maintaining the integrity and refinement of the original Double Shot, we created a new base beer to withstand precisely double the coffee addition Double Shot receives to satisfy our curiosity. The result is something quite surprising and completely original! More milk chocolate than coffee, and more brown sugar than molasses, Tree House Triple Shot conveys a super unique flavor profile that explodes with complexity as it warms. The crew here tastes “straight chocolate syrup”, ”chocolate covered raspberries”, “sweet espresso”, and “chocolate Charleston Chew (seriously)”. A truly rich treat that begs to be shared – we’re psyched to shared it with YOU!

From Me:
Tree House Triple Shot was the highlight of my trip to the brewery, maybe the beer highlight of my year. It was only a 10 ounce pour but I wanted it to last forever. Truly decadent filled with whirling complexity, flavor packed with super chocolate, complimentary espresso, some cherry notes and a lush mouthfeel. This rushes to the top of my beer list at 98 points. What’s the only thing that keeps it from a perfect 100? – the fact that I had to drive 3 hours for just 10 ounces. Sigh!

Read More on Double Shot – 94 Points

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The Arizona Wilderness of Beer A sparse craft beer landscape?

Beer-wise, we certainly are spoiled in the northeast. While the rest of the country jealously pooh-poohs New England style beer as being too hazy and too modified, we just shrug and go on enjoying fantastic juice bomb after juice bomb. A recent trip to Arizona and Utah took me back in time to a craft beer landscape filled with west coast style IPA complete with crushing bitterness.

What’s the difference between a west coast and a New England style IPA? Read Here for the Differences.

First Stop: Phoenix
Beer #: 1,140
Arizona Wilderness July 11th IPA

Arizona Wilderness July 11th IPA

(C) 2018 popsonhops.com

A few weeks before our trip, a friend in Phoenix asked me about the best beer in Arizona. Arizona Wilderness was the name that came up most often in my pre-trip scouting report and on arrival in Phoenix, my friend gave me enough of their beer to carry me through my ten day adventure.

July 11th IPA is quite interesting. It’s a collaborative brew with Cycle Brewing (Florida) and this particular IPA is brewed with lactose and dragonfruit. It pours a pinkish color and is certainly cotton candy sweet over some succinct juniper hops Not quite the milkshake beer they claim it to be, but enjoyable nonetheless. In conclusion, the trip is off to a good start, 88 points.

Next Stop: Petrified Forest, Painted Desert, Route 66 and Winslow.

Beer #: 1,141
Arizona Wilderness Refuge IPA

Refuge IPA by Arizona Wilderness Brewing Company

(C) 2018 popsonhops.com

Sometimes the events shape the experience. Here we were in Winslow, Arizona staying at La Posada (a must stay if you’re driving on Rt. 66 or visiting the Petrified Forest & Painted Desert). After a long day, my family was starving and we spied a little Mexican restaurant kitty corner to the hotel. As soon as we enter, Avengers: Infinity War is just starting on the restaurant television. My sons are pried to the screen the whole meal. Me, I’m partaking in some enchiladas and this west coast style IPA. Very straightforward but like La Posada, from a bygone era. 86 points.

Next Stop: Four Corners, Monument Valley and Grand Canyon
Beer # 1,142
Arizona Wilderness Headin’ West

Arizona Wilderness Headin West

(C) 2018 popsonhops.com

Rainy evening at the Grand Canyon calls for a hotel room beer. Headin’ West yields yeasty clove, spice, wheat. Tons of pine and some cracker-like grains. I’d say this Belgian-style beer is a mediocre 84 points.

Next Stop: Page, Lake Powell and Zion
Beer #: 1,143
Squatters Hop Rising

Squatters Hop Rising Double IPA

(C) 2018 popsonhops.com

After a couple days in Page, Arizona, it’s on to Zion National Park. My son’s 14th birthday so he picks the dinner spot. He picks pasta (what else) and it’s back-to-back nights at Zion Noodle & Pizza (I highly recommend).

This is a hefty 9% ABV and is certainly old-school west coast style. Filled with caramel, overdone toast, citrus rind and a boozy burn to boot. Really not bad but I’m starting to miss the juice bombs of the northeast. 86 points.

 

Beer # 1,144
Red Rock Elephino

Red Rock Elephino

From night number one at Zion Pizza & Noodle. This one is just bad. Checking the date, it’s about three months old which is borderline drain pour in my book. Oxidized hops, doughy and boozy. I call them as I have them…70 points. Luckily, my pasta dish carried the meal.

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