The weather here in Syracuse has not been indicative of the change of seasons this month of May. They say April showers bring May flowers, and though Mayflowers may bring Pilgrims, this so-called "spring" has brought little more than cloudy days and scattered raindrops.
So forgive me if I'm not quite in "summer mode" yet. It was only one week ago that I finally got some color on my pasty Mick-Kraut complexion. And though I'm sure that is tangentially related to the fact that I prefer to watch Battlestar Galatica with the curtains drawn than leave my home, I'll blame genetics, thank you very much.
That being said, the Sixer we selected for May was one that was split nearly down the middle between the India Pale Ale style which I love so much, and that of the Belgians.
The line-up is as follows:
- Abita Jockamo IPA
- Avery Redpoint Ale
- Sea Dog India Pale Ale
- Southampton Double White Ale
- Fort Collins Rocky Mountain IPA
- Weyerbacher Quad
The sixer was purchased at Finger Lakes Beverage in Ithaca, New York, a store that is worth the drive even if you are a complete imbecile with directions, as I am. Here are the respective verdicts:
- #1: Abita Brewing - Jockamo IPA. As far as I know, this beer bears no relation to my good friend, musician Tony "The Geek Love" DiGiacomo, but dare I say it smells nearly as wonderful. First of all, let me marvel at the look for a spell. It's a glowing copper-orange color with a massive, ice cream float-worty head. The carbonation shoots upward so as to look like a game of Space Invaders. The lace is thick, the head sticks around for a long-ass time. It's an otherworldly sight.
The aroma is a rich, buttery-sweet malt smell, topped by a flowery perfume of hops. The malt is a perfect counterpoint, roasted but not burnt or bitter. It's excellent and magnificently balanced. The flavor is a perfumy hop, which tastes like it was aged in pine-chips. (Do people age beer in pine chips?) The hops make the whole affair just a bit sour, but not in an unpleasant way. Just interesting. The taste is different than the aroma in that it is all hops, with nary a hint of the malt to be detectable. It's a fine flavor, but more hop-intensive than expected. With its woody bitterness, I kind of wish there were some sort of sweeter malt counterpoint to balance it.
It feels bubby and effervescent, like a glass of Schwepps. However it's thick and creamy, and gets even moreso as it warms. It's very drinkable, though more bitter than expected. Unbalanced on the hoppy side, but still a very nice beverage.
- #2: Avery Brewing - Redpoint Ale. From the Colorado Rockies (the mountain range, not the incredibly disappointing baseball team), comes this interesting red/amber ale. Its appareance is unusually thick and cloudy, a falu/brick red color. [Note: Yes, I said falu.] Puffy head that leaves a smooth film of lace. It looks quite thick and murky. Really a splendid appearance.
The smell is a toasted malt aroma that has some notes of sweet sugar. Has the dual qualities of a toasted red/amber ale, and the brown sugary sweetness of a brown ale; the brown wins the duel in the nose. The taste has a sweet beginning, with some bold liqueur flavors, and a burst of strong alcohol. The roasted malt is tempered by a slight sweetness. It's a bold red/amber flavor with an added sugary sweetness. It's a tad saccharine, but not too bad.
Feels full-bodied and creamy, leaving a lasting thickness on the tongue. It mellows out about halfway through. Overall, I'd say it's a substantial, complex, balanced beer. It's a solid brew, but possibly too thick for repeats.
#3: Sea Dog - India Pale Ale. This one has a magnificent look: a super cloudy, super dark orange. Has a large, puffy, pillowy head. Looks thick and hazy and awesome.
The smell is a mild citrus and flowery hop. It's a slightly toasted sweet, bready malt. Also has a curious dark raisiny aroma. The flavor is a strong blast of alcohol, which is followed by a strong, woody hop. Ok, so the alcohol here is very very very strong for a regular IPA. The malt is sharp and burnt, roasted and gritty. This is a strong ale with hops. A unique taste for an IPA, actually. There is actually some coffee in that malt.
The feel is bubbly and thick, yet milky on the palate. The final verdict on this one is that it's a strong but remarkably balanced IPA. The malt holds its own. It's a heavy beer but not extreme. It's not so much an IPA; it's a strong ale with hops.
- #4: Southampton - Double White Ale. This former Beer O'the Moment is very thick and cloudy, a bright sunny yellow. There is no head but I halfway blame myself for a bad pour. It looks sunny and refreshing.
I smell some spicy orange peel, with a mild wheaty base. The smell is mild overall, but the orange/coriander and Belgian spiciness dominate. The taste has a spicy initial burst, but then a more sweetish fruity flavor. As it warms, a pleasant puckery sour flavor comes out. There are strong Belgian spices, but it's actually halfway between a Belgian ale and a witbier. It's a pleasant taste.
The feel is fizzy but smooth. The feel is thick like juice on the way down. All told, it's a nice, spicy-sweet Belgian white ale. Easy drinking but with a small bite.
- #5: Fort Collins - Rocky Mountain IPA. The color is a clear, dark orange, with a finger of puffy head. The liquid stays completely still except for a few stray bubbles.
The aroma is a strong resiny hop. It's a little sweet, but with a woody finish in the nose. Smells flowery, though a tad musty. The strength of the aroma is quite impressive. The taste is resiny, oily/woody hops, grounded by some dry, gritty malts. Woody and bitter on the back of the tongue. Flowery and estery, with pale crystal malts emerging.
Dry and sandpapery feel. It's thick but in a good way. I would have to categorize this as a gritty IPA; bitter but not harsh. It's on the hoppy side but just balanced enough.
- #6: Weyerbacher - Quad. Now this baby was the big portabello of the sixer. It's a dark orange, just this side of rose-colored. The finger of flat head is murky, although the other side can be vaguely seen. It's one of the few beers I can remember that actually gets more cloudy by the minute.
The smell is fantastic, a terrific spicy Belgian aroma with hints of citrus and orange peel and coriander. It appears to have a hint of strong alcohol. Bursting with additional flowery scents. Smells excellent. The taste is a strong initial injection of pungent alcohol, but with a spicy ending. It's a one-two punch of alcohol, then spicy, flowery esters. It's grassy. The citrus and orange that were present in the smell are nowhere to be found in the palate. This baby is really, really strong.
The bubbly feel is thick like apple juice, and has a burn on the way down. It warms the belly like brandy. Or gasoline. This sucker is a choker; thick and bursting with alcohol. It's too thick to be drinking all night, but a wonderfully heavy one-and-done.
This sixer was not for wimps! Yet I got through it anyway. Hopefully the ecosystem in the three-one-five will improve over the next few months (it's been nice the last couple of days) and I can move onto some lighter brews. Suggestions are welcome, as are your wonderful erudite comments, criticisms and challenges.