Friday is supposed to be Big Bottle Breakdown day, but it’s been a while since we did one, so we’ve got three in store for today: Duclaw’s Double-Spice 31 Munich-Style Dunkel, He’Brew’s Hop Manna IPA, and Southern Tier’s Gemini Imperial Blended Ale.
DuClaw Double Spiced 31 Munich Style Dunkel
A beer brewed with Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Clove, & All Spice isn’t exactly a typical spring offering, which is exactly why I picked it up. It poured a nice dark amber with luxurious off-white head. On the nose: Nutmeg. A little Cinnamon and clove, but I mainly picked up nutmeg. It overwhelmed any and all other smells. For taste, well, you can guess where this is going: Nutmeg. There’s a solid, slightly sweet malty backbone, but the spices are really what shine through. But they shine through in a good way. DuClaw has done a really nice job of providing a spiced beer that didn’t have me grasping for a glass of water after every sip (like the Hoppin’ Frog Christmas). It still drank really smooth and finished without too much lingering taste from the spices. If you don’t think cinnamon or nutmeg belong in beer, you will not like this beer. If you enjoy something a little different every now and then, or maybe a new winter option, this is a solid bet.
He’Brew Hop Manna IPA
An IPA dry hopped with Citra, Cascade, and Centennial? Amarillo during the boil? It’s gotta be good, right? Nope. Pours a clear copper color with no head. There’s a piney/grassy aroma aroma on the nose, but nothing too strong. There’s some sweetness up front in the palate and then a light bitter taste with a really bland finish. At the end of the day, it was just really blah. All the hops combined to produce absolutely nothing. No good spiciness or complexity from the Citra, no great bitterness from the Amarillo or Cascade. Just eh. I really can’t find anything that redeeming about this beer.
Take a great beer like Southern Tier’s Unearthly and combine it with another great beer like Southern Tier’s Hoppe and what do you get: a REALLY great beer. This beer pours a cloudy yellow gold clearly indicating its unfiltered format and a small white head. There’s a great spicy piney/citrus aroma on the nose that I could smell despite seasonal allergies. There are just an incredible spicy hop notes with good fruity characteristics. Tangy with some notes of orange/pine. A slight bitter finish on the tongue, but just what you’d expect from a beer like this. Overall a phenomenal effort.
So, this might be a bit out of season since Pumpkin flavored brews are typically released in Fall when we’re all eating pumpkin pie, but on a recent trip to Total Wine, I came across a couple of big bottles of the second release of Epic and DC Brau’s collaborative Imperial Pumpkin Porter, Fermentation Without Representation. While one of my two bottles will age for a while in my beer cupboard (perhaps as an incentive for X to do another Great Pumpkin Beerathon), I decided to crack open one and write up a long-due big bottle.
Now, I don’t particularly remember having this beer when it was released on tap, so it was likely a simple taste. I’m pretty excited to try it again in a more coherent state. I love pumpkin pie, Epic makes great beers, and imperial porters are right in my wheelhouse. The fact that DC Brau helped is putting me on edge in a similar way to those stereotypical gifts from your Aunt/Uncle — usually, you have to pretend you like it, but every-once-in-awhile, they knock it out of the park. Let’s hope for the latter.
Pour: It pours similar to what you’d expect in an imperial porter, black with a nice creme colored head. Nothing to suspect something interesting is lurking within…
Aroma: BOOM! There’s the pumpkin spice, but to be honest, it’s there but not as over-bearing as some of the more pumpkin-y porters out there. For me, this is a good thing. Other than the spice, I don’t pick up much aside from a touch of the typical-boozy smell of porters.
Taste: I think it’s pretty interesting and a good change from the normal or bourbon-barrel porters that I usually drink. The flavor range goes from boozy-porter to an interesting little bit of pumpkin and ends with a bit of a sort of gritty coffee bitterness in the throat. Now, akin to the aroma, the taste isn’t overwhelmed by pumpkin like the bigger pumpkin beers.
Body: Fermentation Without Representation still has the body of a porter; it has a medium thickness that lightly coats your mouth and throat for a few seconds but then clears out.
All in all, I think this is a decent pumpkin beer, especially if you don’t want to feel like you’re drinking pumpkin pie filling. It’s good, but I don’t think it’s the absolute best pumpkin beer out there — just a good starter beer to get yourself used to the flavoring. If you come across it, it may be worth socking one away for a year, but I can’t make promises about how it’ll be until next year.
Till then, it’s good
In lieu of a 3xB this week, Tonzi and I decided to try something a little different. A premium malt beverage with natural and artificial flavors. We are speaking of none other than Four Loko!
This Week’s Big Bottle: Widmer Brothers Barrel Aged Brrrbon
This Weeks Big Bottle: Sierra Nevada Estate Homegrown Ale