Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Canned Beer from San Diego — Mike Hess Brewing vs. Modern Times

Mike Hess Brewing
Habitus Rye IPA
ABV 8.0%
Modern Times 
Blazing World Amber
ABV 6.8%

San Diego is serious about craft beer. During our short visit a couple of months ago we planned on checking out a bunch of the San Diego stalwarts like Green Flash, Stone, Speedway, Alesmith, Ballast Point, Lost Abbey/Port and Pizza Port. When we got there, however, we were far more intrigued by the vast number of smaller breweries that don't currently distribute to Oregon. We ended up checking out Acoustic Ales, Societe Brewing, Council Brewing, Belching Beaver Brewing (possibly the worst name for a brewery, ever) and Modern Times. We didn't make it to the Mike Hess brewery, but did sample their beers at an event where they were pouring. This battle features two of my personal favorite beers from the trip. They are not the same style, but who cares? They are both in cool cans, both from San Diego and I make the rules.

Beer #1 (Mike Hess Habitus Rye IPA) was a bright orange. The nose featured pine and pineapple hop notes, sweet honey malts and a spicy rye character. The rye really stood out in the flavor with a distinct spiciness to go along with the piny, herbal hops. It finished moderately bitter with a smooth spicy finish.

Beer #2 (Modern Times Blazing World Amber) was more of a brownish orange. The aroma was very complex with a sweet and fruity malt backbone combined with some serious dank (as they so aptly describe it), cat-pee, marijuana funkiness. The flavor was very rich with some smoky and sweet pipe-tobacco along with toasted wood and an intense, herbal hoppiness throughout. The finish had a solid bitterness with some slight smoke and herbal funk.

I had a really hard time choosing as I think both of these beers are amazing. The Habitus is probably the best Rye IPA I've tried and the Blazing World is unique, experimental and absolutely delicious. I ended up choosing the Blazing World because it is just unlike any other beer I've tasted and I give them huge props for putting something so unfamiliar in their permanent lineup. It was an easy decision for Ellen, however, as she went with the stellar Habitus mainly because she found the super intense richness and aggressive funky hoppiness of the Blazing World to be borderline offensive.  

Split decision: Ellen chose the Habitus, I chose the Blazing World

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

IPAs — Three Floyds Brewing vs. Elysian Brewing

Three Floyds Brewing
Zombie Dust Pale Ale
ABV 6.2%
Elysian Brewing  
Dayglow IPA
ABV 6.2%

This battle could not have happened if not for the generous contribution of Greg, a new follower of Bottle Battle and a fellow IPA geek. You see, Greg was able to get me a bottle of Zombie Dust which happens to be somewhat of a cult beer, adored by beer drinkers and beer judges alike. It's brewed by Three Floyds Brewing Company in Indiana and is not distributed on the west coast so we were very excited to see how it fared in a battle. For the opponent we chose a bottle that is getting a lot of buzz among IPA lovers, Elysian Brewing's Dayglow IPA. As usual, beers were tasted blind.

Beer #1 (Zombie Dust) was brownish orange with a yeasty, herbal, piney aroma. The flavor was amazingly balanced with sweet malt and citrus hops to go along with an incredibly smooth mouthfeel. The finish had some mild grain notes and the most pleasant citrus hop bitterness that we can recall tasting — not harsh in any way while still managing to be moderately bitter.

Beer #2 (Dayglow IPA) was almost the exact same color as Beer #1. The aroma was bold with cat pee, marijuana and an all around funk. The flavors were similar to the aroma with great balance as well leading to a very harsh herbal and citrus rind finish.

First off let's talk labels. I have no idea who would win in a fight between a metal-armored, giant hammer-wielding zombie and a tiger that shoots lasers from it's eyes but I'm sure it would be entertaining. Regardless, both of these beers have amazing labels that feature foil accents and stunning graphics. Kudos to the design teams for some excellent artwork.

Regarding the stuff inside the bottles, both were damn good but both our votes went to the Zombie Dust for being some of the most full-flavored, yet easily drinkable beer we've ever had the honor of drinking. And for those sticklers out there who might point out that one is a Pale Ale and one is an IPA, we say "shut your yapper," because nowadays those stylistic lines are completely blurred by the whims and philosophy of each brewer. It's chaos in the hoppy beer world but it's very tasty chaos. 

Thanks again for the beer Greg! Cheers! 

Unanimous decision: Zombie Dust