BeerCast #58 – The Long Americans

Posted by on Feb 15, 2011 in American Beer, BeerCasts | 2 Comments

BeerCast 58, and on this particular podcast we deal with some extremely lengthily-titled Americans. Shovels went on a pre-Christmas sun trip to Florida, and as we’re never off-duty brought back a selection of strong American craft beers for us to review – not to mention the receipts for a $130 round trip to get them. We open up the show with Sierra Nevada Southern Hemisphere Harvest 2010 (6.7%), before moving up the west coast to Oregon for Rogue Dry Hopped St. Rogue Red Ale (5.2%) – a malty red ale to balance the pale-heavy podcast. Next beer up is Hoppin’ Frog Hoppin’ to Heaven IPA (6.8%) from Akron in Ohio, before we finish on the strongest of the night – Southern Tier UnEarthly Imperial IPA (11.0%). Will his expensive beer run have been worth it? Joining Shovels are Grooben, Richard, and MrB.

1. Southern Hemisphere Harvest 2010
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co, Chico, California.
22oz US glass bottle

On the 5th of November 1980, the Sierra Nevada brewery produced the first batch of their now-famous Pale Ale. Founded just the year before in Chico by ex-homebrewer Ken Grossman, they have gone on to become one of the largest and highest rated breweries in America. We wouldn’t be any kind of beer website not to feature plenty of SN output – we sampled their Porter in BeerCast #21 and their Estate 2009 in BeerCast #50 – the autumnal version of the beer we sample tonight. Fresh hops from New Zealand are freighted to California for a spring Harvest ale from the Southern Hemisphere.

What They Say
“Robust hop character presents an intriguing floral-citrus aroma leading to layers of fresh-hop spiciness. Enjoy!” [Official Website]

What We Say
Richard – Has a vinous, winey character and I think it’s very very nice 9
Shovels – I shouldn’t compare to the Harvest, but I just prefer that
MrB – SN grow hops, so why ship them from NZ? Is there that striking a difference? I’m loving the beer but I’m not getting the point
Grooben – Tough to distinguish from the other, I’m not complaining 8

2. Dry Hopped St. Rogue Red Ale
Rogue Ales, Newport, Oregon.
22oz US glass bottle

Rogue began life in the Oregon city of Ashland in 1988. A group of college friends decided to make the familiar jump from homebrewing into something more serious – it must have helped that one of them was also an accountant. After less than a year in Ashland they relocated to larger premises in coastal Newport, and have since gone from strength to strength, having produced over sixty beers, and won countless awards. Fond of long names, we sampled their Morimoto Black Obi Soba Ale in BeerCast #53, and this time we get to grips with their dry hopped red ale, St Rogue.

What They Say
“Reddish copper in color, a roasty malt flavor with a hoppy sprucy finish.” [Official Website]

What We Say
Grooben – It’s not strong, but has a beautiful rounded maltiness
MrB – I wish there was a bit more sparkle to it, but it’s amazing
Shovels – Subtle and mild, I really love the aroma
Richard – I like that sweet maltiness that doesn’t take over

3. Hoppin’ to Heaven IPA
Hoppin’ Frog Brewery, Akron, Ohio.
22oz US glass bottle

Continuing our theme, Hoppin’ Frog were founded in 2006 by another ex-homebrewer, Fred Karm. After brewing his own back in the 90’s, he worked for Akron area microbrewpub Thirsty Dog, until they ceased production in 2005. Spotting an opportunity, Fred bought the brewing gear and set up on his own. Having been nicknamed ‘the frog’ because of his mastery of hops, he named the new venture Hoppin’ Frog. Within two years, Fred had to expand to premises three times the size to keep up with demand.

What They Say
“A classic, robust American IPA with a spicy, assertive citrusy American hop character balanced with a full-bodied, rich malt taste.” [Official Website]

What We Say
MrB – Hoppy, sweet and sparkly – almost Belgian-esque
Richard – Love that hop flavour, really effervescent on the palate
Shovels – There’s a narrow intensity that’s really nice 8
Grooben – Sweet with big floaty chunks, love the frog 8

4. UnEarthly Imperial IPA
Southern Tier Brewing Co, Lakewood, New York.
22oz US glass bottle

The far south-western pointy corner of New York State is known as the Southern Tier – and back in 2002 Phineas DeMink and Allen ‘Skip’ Yahn decided to bring brewing back to the tier. Their two early flagships were a pilsner and a mild, but things really took off for them with the release of an IPA. They produce a staggering array of Imperials – an imperial extra pale ale, imperial red ale, imperial black ale, imperial hefeweizen, oak-aged imperial IPA, imperial oatmeal stout, imperial pumpkin ale, imperial lager, and an imperial crème brulee milk stout. Tonight we sample their imperial IPA UnEarthly, the abv of which varies depending on the batch – ours charges in at 11%.

What They Say
“An Uninhibited Infusion of Hops. We continue our commitment to innovation with our most aggressive offering yet. Unearthly is a manifestation of the brewers crafts, skilfully balancing art and the forces of nature to produce a divine liquid.” [Official Website]

What We Say
MrB – It moves slower than water – I don’t like sweet things in the slightest but the hops are just enough 8
Richard – It’s like drinking pineapple hop treacle
Shovels – It’s harder core than Hardcore IPA, that’s for sure 7
Grooben – Struggling with this one, it’s just too syrupy everywhere

– (clockwise from top left) Grooben, MrB, Shovels, Richard

BeerCast panel verdict
Sierra Nevada Southern Hemisphere Harvest 2010 34/40
Rogue St Rogue Dry Hopped Red Ale 34/40
Hoppin’ Frog Hoppin’ to Heaven IPA 33½/40
Southern Tier UnEarthly Imperial IPA 28/40

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    1. Rob Derbyshire
      March 28, 2011

      I was lucky enough to buy all these beers in the UK, so your chances of having them again.

      I got Northern Hemisphere from Beer Ritz and MyBreweryTap
      Rogue Red from Bacanalia, Beer Ritz and MBT
      Hoppin Frog from Kris Wines and Beermerchants
      Unearthly I got at GBBF but both Kris Wines and Beermerchants have stocked it recently.

      I really enjoyed the Hoppin Frog “Hoppin’ to Heaven IPA” check out my review.

      I had Southern Hemisphere on tap in Leeds’ North bar and thought it was excellent but as you guy agreed not as good as the Estate Harvest ale.

      I’m not a fan of the Rogue St Rogue Dry Hopped Red Ale, too sweet.

      And I hated Southern Tier UnEarthly Imperial IPA it was the beer that turned , me off DIPA for a long time I even poured a third of it away. To heavy, sweet and chewy

    2. Richard
      March 30, 2011

      Cheers Rob – you definitely need a sweet tooth to stomach those big DIPA’s – Cigar City do a few that are like that. I just don’t think our British palates are made to take them…

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