Southern Tier Brewing Company Gemini

Southern Tier Brewing Co Gemini
Southern Tier Brewing Co Gemini

I had the chance to try Southern Tier Brewing Company Gemini, based in Lakewood, New York.  It’s a 50/50 blend of their unfiltered Hoppe and Unearthly beers.

As an IPA, I was prepared for an ultra hoppy beer, but it was an excellent blend that was very smooth.  It didn’t have too much bitterness, and was very balanced.

The beer had four different types hops in boil, and five types of dry hops.  This contributes a ton of citrus and floral flavor that balances out with the thick malt flavor.

I have to say, this was a great beer.  I would definitely recommend it to anyone.  Don’t let the IPA label scare you because the hop flavor and aroma was very subdued, but just be prepared for it to be thicker than your regular Pale Ale or other session beer.

Have you had Gemini?  What did you think?

Peace Tree Brewing Hop Wrangler 3

Hop Wrangler 3
Hop Wrangler 3

Peace Tree Brewing made it to Iowa City!

I was able to try Hop Wrangler 3 in the bottle. It is an IPA with Belgian, English, and American malts, and  English and American hops added at 6 different times.  A Belgian yeast is used, and leaves a lot of nice sweet esters.

The aroma is very hoppy with a bit of a sweet smell.  The taste has a strong hop flavor balanced with just enough malt.  There is a fluffy white head that stayed the whole glass.  It also had a nice finish.  It was a great IPA, and I look forward to more from Peace Tree!

New Belgium Ranger IPA

Ranger IPA
Ranger IPA

I just had the chance to try New Belgium’s Ranger IPA.

At first, there was an aroma of citrus.  Upon tasting, there was a bit of citrus, pine, and mango.  It is balanced, and not too bitter.  With the finish, here is enough hops to make it an IPA.  I can taste the three hops used, Cascade (adds a citrus flavor), Simcoe (adds a bit of mango), and Chinook (gives it a nice bitterness).

It was a good IPA and would try it again.  Have you tried Ranger IPA?  What did you think?

Beer Styles – An Introduction

Beer Styles
Beer Styles

If you are new to beer, or haven’t experienced many beers, a great place to start is by exploring beer styles.

Peter Bouckaert, the head brewer at New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins, Colorado gets very upset when someone mentions beer styles because he sees beer as an art, and not to squeeze into small style categories.  This is true, but for a beginning beer lover, styles are the best guide to exploring the world of beer because it gives you a framework for interpreting the beer.

According to the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP), a division of the American Homebrew Association, there are 28 major divisions, with each major division containing 3-4 subdivisions, for a total of almost 100 different beer styles, and the number seems to grow every year.

So where do you start?

Many times, if you are used to lagers or light lagers, it may be to your advantage to try a few wheat beers or pale ales to expand your horizons.  Eventually, if you enjoy the hop flavor enough, you should try the IPA style.

On the other end of the scale, if you haven’t had many beers, it may be better for you to try several darker beers that have a lot of malt sweetness with little bitterness.  Some good examples include brown ales, stouts, or the seasonal Oktoberfest.

The key is to try several examples of each style.  There are prototypical examples of each style, for example Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is the prototypical pale ale, but there are other examples that differ in body and flavor such as Magic Hat’s #9 or Widmer Brothers Drifter Pale Ale.

So the moral is just because you don’t like a beer style, maybe it’s just the beer, and not the style.  Or even it’s the situation.  The first time I tried New Belgium’s 1554 Black Ale, I didn’t like it, but this winter, I tried it again and couldn’t get enough of it.

Keep diversifying, and enjoy!