This is a review of the original Hop Head by Green Flash (2009 version). This version was 55 IBU and only 6.4% ABV (it’s currently 70 IBU and 8.1% ABV). When it was at the original version, it was a nice hoppy American Amber that showcased how Green Flash could hold off on all the hops for once. The new version is more of a Red IPA, whereas the original was teetering on the brink of being one. The hops mixed with the deep roasted malt led to a surprisingly long finish for a nice bodied ale.
Palo Santo Marron is an American Brown Ale from Dogfish Head, weighing in right at 12% ABV (which happens to also be Ohio’s maximum ABV cap). Unfiltered and aged in handmade Palo Santo wood vessels that lend a vanilla flavor to the ale itself, it’s a wonderfully complex aged ale. A backbone of caramel malt lends flavor and strength to this beer, making a wonderfully rich and layered beer. Also tastes somewhat of raisins.
Amber Ale from Dark Horse Brewing out of Michigan is an American Amber weighing in at 5.5% ABV. It’s a pretty decent beer, but doesn’t taste like a normal amber beer should. Somewhat toasted malt flavors lurk in the background, and there’s no hops to speak of. Spicy like a Witbier – definitely would classify this more as a red Wit, because we have black IPAs. Definitely touches of banana esters and isn’t carbonated very well. Overall – would drink again, but wouldn’t seek this out either.
High Country Ale is a somewhat decent American Pale Ale (APA). Weighing in at 5.4% ABV, it tastes much like an American Adjunct Lager-Ale. That being said – it’s decent, if overly heavy on the biscuity malt flavors that still manage to be corn-like and light-tasting. Mainly malt-based, with almost no hops to speak of. Easy-drinking, but almost devoid of any other flavors besides the biscuity malt that’s light on the palate.
Originally released to foreign countries (ie: not the US or the UK), Foreign Extra Stout from Guinness was well known to international travelers. I was able to enjoy a variant of this beer on a beach in Bermuda, but it was finally introduced (as a different recipe) to America in 2010. This recipe far surpasses the original variant that I sampled (which as it turns out is because the Bahamanian version’s brewed in the Bahamas itself). After its introduction in 2010, it’s been generally available year-round (but may not be always available in your market). 7.5% ABV and it packs more flavor in than normal “Guinness” does. It’s a Foreign Extra Stout, not an Irish Dry Stout (as Guinness Draught is). Some hops flavor, plenty of punch, chocolate-caramel-coffee flavors, and isn’t boozy. Finishes clean. Overall, an excellent beer and one you should probably consider as being way better than you’d think it is.
Storm King is an American double stout that might strike some as being more of a black DIPA. Definitely a stout for the hop-heads. Made exclusively with grain – doesn’t have coffee or chocolate flavors. Heavily carbonated, bitterly hoppy, but finishes clean. Worth searching out if you’re not a fan of stouts that overly rely on coffee or chocolate notes (despite its reliance on hops here).
Sampled in 2009 – Year-round oatmeal stout brewed by New Holland (Michigan) at only 5.2% ABV. Full bodied, but not creamy. Balanced roasted malt flavors with touches of coffee, oatmeal, and chocolate. Silky smooth mouthfeel and highly drinkable. Slightly dry due to the oatmeal, but slightly bittered by the hops to remind you to slow down and enjoy this excellent stout instead of chugging it like it was water.
Sampled in 2009 – 4.3% ABV doesn’t mean tasteless. Roast malt flavors combined with Fuggle hops give this a dry mouthfeel, which is desirable for a dry Irish stout. Coffee, mocha, and peat flavors commingle to create that ‘stout’ flavour, while still managing to be full-bodied. Completely black and opaque when poured, with a espresso colored head that dissipates pretty fast. Low carbonation help prop the drinkability up, along with a slight creaminess as the beer warms. Overall – I probably prefer this to Guinness if I’m not going for a creamy beer.
Mild Amber at 5.5% ABV, this is a easy-drinking medium bodied beer. It has a nice color and head, but tastes a bit watery. Counteracted by a long herbal finish. Smooth throughout. Has caramel and toffee malt notes. Would classify this as an English style amber (malt-forward). Hops are pushed to the back of the plate. It’s okay, but you’d struggle to remember the name of the beer.
World-Class IPA from New York. Pineapple-grapefruit aroma and finish. Smooth finish despite being very hoppy (wonderful attribute for an IPA). Honey & caramel malt help balance the hops out. Not carbonated very heavily. All in all, almost a perfect example of what an American IPA should be. Delicious beer, but you will definitely not feel the ABV hit until later.