Pete: This beach trip was at the perfect time (between me finishing my internship and starting school), so I managed to do some traveling and acquire some beers from random places. Normally, I would not try to hold onto this many beers in growler/crowler form, but I figured the time from the fill to the beach was short enough that I could swing it. Nothing tasted off, so it was a good experiment to see how far you can push those “drink within 48 hours” restrictions breweries will note to you. I obviously would still suggest drinking any growler fresh, but, depending on the style, you can store some growlers for closer to 2-4 weeks if you really want to save some stuff. I also dove into my cellar to try some of my Dogfish 120 Minute IPA that has been aging. I will write about aging a little more in the future, but to be safe the 18-20% beers are probably some of the safest beers to try to age, because the alcohol content and body allows them to keep from being watery.
Shane: This was an interesting batch of beers for me. I’ve actually had two of them before (the Aslin Gose and the 120 Minute IPA), so I knew exactly how good they were. The aging of the 120 Minute added a whole new twist though, and, never having aged an IPA, I was curious to see what the flavor difference would be. I’ve had the chance to sample some beers from RaR before, and I’ve enjoyed them quite a bit. And Tired Hands...well, Tired Hands needs no introduction. They are world famous for a reason, and any day I get to sample something from them is a good day. I’m guessing it will be hard to top a double IPA from them.
York: I didn’t know much about any of these beers going in other than their reputation as power players in the region. The Tired Hands saison that Pete brought to our first Beercation was one of the highlights, so the fact that their DIPA is included in this has me pretty excited. Also looking forward to trying something different from Aslin, and having my first brew from RaR. Both are places that have really come to the main stage since I left the area, so they’re particularly fun in that respect. The progression of the DMV beer scene is so much fun to follow, and it certainly doesn’t hurt that they’re consistently putting out top notch brews!
Pete's Thoughts: I am a fan of any Tired Hands IPA, and, even when they don’t include a heavy dose of the new hops, they hit it out of the park. This is all Simcoe, and really plays to show you all the depth of the hop. Rich and creamy palate, slightly citrus bite that reminds you of orange sherbet, very rich herbal notes, and some pine on the back end. What makes this beer remarkable is the lack of bitterness. It captures all of the positive characteristics of Simcoe without pushing the bite that the hop can bring on the back end. While this doesn’t ooze with all the fruits of the rainbow, it reminds me of all the great flavors that we love from Simcoe.
Shane's Thoughts: As far as I'm concerned, this is a classic Tired Hands beer. Just the right amount of bitterness. Just the right amount of richness. Absolutely outstanding quality. Beautifully complex, with a nice depth of flavor. The high alcohol content gives it a nice bite, which is something I appreciate in a double IPA. I don't need to be blown away with alcohol flavor, but when you're selling me a double IPA, I want to taste a double IPA. This really hits my palate in the right way. While I've had Tired Hands beers that I liked more, that's a high bar. This is a really solid double.
York's Thoughts: Simcoe is a hop I very often see in beers I like a lot, but it's very rarely a single-hop selection that I've come across. It's got a lot of depth to it, and is aided by the high ABV as far as layering nose and body, but it's lacking a bit on the hop profile. I suppose the positive trade there is that for a strong IPA, this has a nice abrupt ending and very little bitter stick, despite the haze. My only other exposure to Tired Hands is the Saison, so it's tough to compare, and this one is a bit unremarkable. Great baseline IPA and impressive smoothness for the strength, though.
York: Well done, definitely makes me want to keep trying more of their brews. 7/10
Pete: On point, which should be no shock from Tired Hands. 8/10
Shane: Par for the Tired Hands course. Doesn’t blow me away relative to other Tired Hands, but few things do. 8/10
Pete's Thoughts: So I took at pit stop at RaR and wanted to bring a bunch of this for review because it really blew my mind at the pub. This beer is all juice. Usually you get a lot of peel from these beers, but they somehow managed to make a seamless juice beer that really was perfect for the beach. Citrus notes off the chart and took their regular IPA to new heights. RaR does a lot of great small-batch hoppy beer, and this definitely an interesting offering. I am excited to get to try more of their beers.
Shane's Thoughts: I absolutely agree with Pete here. This beer is essentially grapefruit juice, and the fact that it clocks in at 6.7% is unbelievable. I’ve had beers that tasted like juice before, but they tend to hover around the 4% to 4.5% range in order to keep themselves free of that beer-y, alcohol-y bite that tends to ruin the fruit profile. RaR finds a beautiful balance, and one that I didn’t quite expect. I’ve had some fruit beers from RaR before, and while I thought they were tasty, they didn’t achieve the same level of harmony. If this is an indication of RaR’s continued development, consider me excited to see what they do in the future.
York's Thoughts: Skeptical is the only word I have in mind for beers that call themselves "Grapefruit" anything. Normally, that means it tastes like candy, or is just ultra bitter. As always, there’s an exception to every rule, and this is it. Insanely tasty without making you forget it’s a beer, and bonus points for not selling out as a wimpy flavored beer at 4%. This makes for a top choice summer beer, and the elevated ABV makes it one that I would definitely reach for.
Pete: A perfect beach beer, almost makes you forget that it is an IPA. 8/10
Shane: Sometimes I’m put off by beer that doesn’t taste like beer, but when that beer weighs in at almost 7%, allowances can certainly be made. 8/10
York: Awesome summer brew. Looking forward to more of this line. 8/10
Pete's Thoughts: I have been holding onto these beers for about five years, because, while 120 Minute didn’t really do it for me, I had read enough Dogfish literature to know that these beers age well. This was the first chance I have had to open one of these because, honestly, other beers have gotten in the way. I was also scared because hoppy beers aren’t supposed to be aged, but this one is a different story. This beer is not like an IPA, and it is not like a barleywine. First off, it is still carbonated, which is just odd considering the ABV and the time that has passed. The beer smells like tart cherries and raspberries and really reminds me more of a lambic style than I was expecting. The flavor reminds me of plums and raspberries with subtle notes of dark fruits that I cannot identify. I was super impressed with how much this beer changed and stayed drinkable. This also gave me confidence in the other Dogfish Head bottles that I have stashed away. While aging beers is always a crapshoot, it is good to know some are worth the investment.
Shane's Thoughts: You know, I don’t think I’ve ever had an aged IPA before, but what do you know? This one says "AGES WELL" right on the side in big capital letters. I’ve had 120 Minute before, and while it’s a little malty for my taste, wow is it ever hard to argue with a beer that clocks in at WELL over 10% alcohol. Aging it has amped up both of those qualities. This beer is so thick and rich that at first glance you might even mistake it for a stout, and the malty features that are a little much for me in the standard 120 Minute offering actually play nicely into that richness. They’re right: this is a beer that ages well. Sadly, York won’t be able to review this one, and it’s my fault. I dropped a bottle on the floor while taking it out of the fridge, and while it didn’t shatter, the cap popped just enough that I had to drink it right then and there. Sorry, York. This is a damn fine beer.
Pete: Amazing, not much else to say. 10/10
Shane: Dogfish Head likes extreme flavors, and tends to be alternately too bitter or too malty for me. Aged 120 Minute hits a beautiful sweet spot, though. 8/10
Pete's Thoughts: Oh Aslin, no matter how long the lines are, I just cannot get enough of you. This was a beer I acquired a while ago, but I figured if anything would hold up well over time, a fruit gose would be the one. This beer rocks. I have had their raspberry blackberry gose before, which is a little more balanced with the sweetness. If you like tart, this is the beer for you. You get layers of bitterness from the fruit. Raspberry gets you that tart, seedy sensation in your mouth, then you notice this bright aggressive citrus from the key limes which really compliments the raspberries. It puckers your mouth but you keep going back for another sip. I don’t know if Germans would call this traditional, but whatever this is, it is good.
Shane's Thoughts: If Aslin wasn’t so hard to get my hands on (especially living in New England), I know exactly what I would do with this beer: mix it with gin. It’s juice. It’s tart, it’s delicious, and it absolutely nails every flavor element it goes for. Goses tend to be a little difficult for me to judge because I never know quite what to make of them (I actually had an oyster gose--yes, you read that right--from our friends at Liars’ Bench recently, so it’s a pretty broad style). I love bold flavors in beer--it’s why I love New England IPAs, and it’s why I’ve come around to loving sours. Goses tread an interesting line, and usually play on slightly mellower flavors. Not this one. It’s a deliciously tart raspberry/lime explosion, and I could drink it all day without ever getting sick of it. To me, this is what all goses should aspire to be.
York's Thoughts: When we decided to do a beer exchange at the beach, I was a bit worried that some of the heavier stuff wouldn’t be quite as tasty in the warm sunny weather. On the COMPLETE opposite side of that spectrum, Aslin’s Gose might be the best beer for this situation that we’ve reviewed to date. It gave us the same delicious juiciness that the Bissell Seed from Shane did, but took it a much more tart/sour route. Add to that the sweetness from the lime and the salty funk from the gose style, and this turns into quite the beverage. Love Shane’s idea to add gin, and I’d even say you could go as far as to use it as the base of a margarita as well. No need to spike it, however--the beer stands perfectly well by itself.
Shane: I have a hard time imagining that I’ll ever rate a gose higher than this. 9/10
York: Couldn’t have asked for more from this. 10/10
Pete: A gose that breaks the mold in all the best ways. 8/10
Best of the Bunch
York: Gose all day. The IPAs were great, but the Gose had it all.
Pete: 120 Minute. This beer really blew my mind and aged wonderfully.
Shane: Gotta be the Gose.
Drink With Us
Three friends. Three corners of the country. One passion for beer.
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