Tuesday, December 1, 2009

December 1st Beer Tastings: Sierra Nevada / Dogfish Head Life & Limb and Firestone Walker Union Jack IPA

Selma's, my local pizza place here in Rancho Santa Margarita just opened up a new Tap Room. While I liked the sushi place that was there before, I've got to say, Selma's beer list triumphs over a crunchy roll any day.

So tonight my wife, daughter, and I ventured over for some pizza and brew. I was on a mission, since I had seen the beer list online prior to their opening, and was excited to see that they had the Sierra Nevada / Dogfish Head Life & Limb on tap! I've been looking forward to this beer for awhile now and was very surprised to see that Selma's was able to get it. As you can tell from previous posts, I'm a huge fan of both Sierra Nevada and Dogfish. Both are unique brewers that consistently innovate while producing highest quality brews.

Anyway, as for the Life and Limb: It's a strong beer at 10% ABV. Thick, foamy, light brown head. The beer looks and smells like maple/molasses. They actually use maple syrup from Sam's family farm, and birch syrup from Alaska to naturally carbonate the beer. Mouthfeel is very smooth despite the high alcohol content. Almost like eating pancakes on Sunday morning. Hop character is not overly pronounced as far as I could tell - would have expected maybe a little more hops with the Sierra Nevada connection. Overall this was an excellent and well balanced beer. Though I would say I taste perhaps more Dogfish influence than Sierra. It actually reminded me a little of Dogfish's India Brown Ale which is a bit more hoppy but has the similar caramel/molasses taste.

After two pieces of pizza and a pint of the Life & Limb I ordered a pint of Firestone Walker's Union Jack IPA. At 7.5% they say it's an aggressive IPA, and they're right. But this is a bit different than alot of the IPA's out there that are overly bitter with poor malt/hop balance. The hops in this IPA hit you in the nose first, then right on the tip of your tongue. That's from being dry-hopped with Amarillo, Cascade, Centennial, Chinook, and Simcoe. The aroma and flavor of hops here are much more overt than the bittering hops (Warrior, Simcoe). I've got to say that even though I'm a big IPA fan, the initial hop burst seems to overpower the rest of the beer. It does finish fairly clean and I like the freshness of the dryhopping, but really didn't get much malt here. I'll have to revisit this at a later time and give it another try. As for now, the Firestone Walker Double Barrel Ale still gets higher marks.

On tap for me right now: I just kegged a California Common, have an Oaked Baltic Porter in Secondary, and will be brewing a Black IPA this coming weekend. Looking forward to the holidays! Sveiks!

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