Tag Archives: IPA

atmos – kora double hop IPA

as i always do, i must preface this review with the disclaimer that i don’t typically like IPAs and didn’t ever drink them when i was drinking alcoholic beer, so i often don’t even understand the various styles of IPAs. i had to look up what “double hop” even meant.

(actually, i’m still not clear. is it double dry hopped? or double IPA? are those the same thing? i think it means double dry hopped, which means adding more hops post-fermentation in the hopes of making a more complex aroma/flavor profile. i think double IPA just means double the amount of hops, which i guess could mean either before/after fermentation.)

so take my opinion with a grain of salt if you are someone who really loves IPAs. i’m probably not the best judge.

but this was the latest round of the tastNA club where i get to sample new and hopefully interesting beers for free in return for an honest review. this is only the second round for me, with the big drop pale ale being the first one. (it was hoppy but i still liked it because it was balanced and smooth.) so i’m trying to approach this with an open mind to see what i think, but i will hope there will be future rounds of the tasteNA club that include other beer styles that aren’t IPAs or pale ales.

this hazy double hop IPA is from atmos brewing (formerly ethos brewing), an independent NA craft brewery based in hailey, idaho. it was sent to us reviewers fresh from the canning line, which is really nice. (there are a lot of discussions in the NA beer world about freshness, as without alcohol as a preservative, NA brews don’t have as long of a shelf life once canned. and IPAs specifically seem to lose the effects of the hops over time.)

it poured a nice golden yellow color, minimally hazy, and had a respectable head to it. it was definitely very aromatic – kinda floral, a little sweet fruity smelling, piney. (the info card that comes with the beer says it’s a combination of chinook, citra, mosaic and azacca hops.)

sadly for me, it smells better than it tastes. i don’t get the same complexity in the taste that i get in the aroma. i get a woody, piney, strongly bitter flavor that’s just kinda flat and for my palate is just hops overkill. like, it kills my taste buds immediately.

it has a light body to it, a little thin – mouthfeel is ok but i wouldn’t call it full-bodied. it goes down pretty easy and the flavor dissipates pretty quickly once it hits my throat, leaving not much of an aftertaste. but i think this pretty much encapsulates what i don’t like about IPAs in general – the strong hops just overpowers everything and leaves my taste buds unable to enjoy the experience.

i just think IPAs are not for me. maybe my palate is just not geared to appreciating the nuances of a beer like this. but if you are someone who really likes a 50 IBU IPA with four different kinds of hops, maybe you’d like this. but it is clearly a beer made with a lot of intention and care, so kudos to atmos for their dedication to the craft. maybe i need to try their golden ale!

sam adams – just the haze

i really am obsessed, y’all. i don’t even drink IPAs and yet, due to all the reviews i’ve read about this one and all the PR hype from sam adams, i’ve been keeping an eye out for this one in my local grocery stores. and i just happened to stop in this morning after my first dog walk to buy some water cuz i was out. (it was sweaty today!) so i took a look – though i walked past it the first time cuz they just threw it in with all the regular beer, not with the other NAs – and it was there! $8.99 for a six pack at rouses downtown. (and no, i don’t usually shop at rouses anymore but due to my tight schedule and location this was the best option to stop to get water.)

so yeah. sam adams – you’re probably familiar with them. boston beer company. one of the biggest “craft” breweries in the US, or the craft-iest corporate brewery in the US? your pick. there’s been a lot of controversy in the craft beer world over sam adams and i don’t want to get into all that. i don’t usually drink their beer, not on any kind of principle – i just never found it all that compelling. but they were pretty much the beginning of the craft beer movement.

“just the haze” is the newest, most hyped NA brew this year so when i saw it i figured, why not? i don’t usually like IPAs (at least with alcoholic beers) but i’ve been finding i have more of a tolerance for the bitterness of hops in the NA brews i’ve tried so i thought, well maybe? it’s a “hazy, juicy” IPA – i actually never really knew what that meant since i don’t drink IPAs – but i’m learning it’s exactly what it sounds like. hazy, referring to the visual appearance of the beer, unfiltered, not crystal clear, like a lot of farmhouse ales i’ve enjoyed in the past. and juicy, meaning, duh, like it’s got juicy flavors and aromas.

what i didn’t realize about “just the haze” cuz i guess i blocked it out or just wasn’t paying attention when reading all those reviews is that one of the juices of the “juicy” is grapefruit. i really don’t like grapefruit! i have strong anti-grapefruit feelings and reactions. i don’t like the bitterness/tartness pucker factor. i prefer a sweeter citrus – orange, mandarine, satsuma. i can handle lemon and lime but grapefruit just puts me over the edge. so yeah. the predominant juiciness – though not the only – is grapefruit. (there’s also a lot of pineapple and kind of a lime and other tropical fruity thing going on – it’s quite complex – but the grapefruit kinda lingers on the back end after the initial sweeter pineapple and just screams at me. maybe it’s just me; maybe i’m just sensitive.)

i put a few in the fridge as soon as i got home from work but was worried they weren’t cold enough so i iced one down in the freezer for about 30-40 minutes while i cooked some dinner. that was almost too long, as when i poured it there was a little icy sludge starting to happen. so maybe that affected the taste some. i’ll revisit this review when i try the second one which didn’t go in the freezer.

my first taste surprised me… that there was so much going on and that the bitterness and sweetness both competed and harmonized at the same time. this brew is confusing to my palette! it’s quite light in body and taste, and smooth, still feels like a real beer in your mouth. i could see this being very thirst quenching on a hot day. it’s interesting to me.

what i don’t really notice much is an extreme hops bitterness i was expecting from something called an IPA. but it’s really much more subtle here, which upon more research i’m finding is a quality of juicy, hazy (or New England style) IPAs. which means “just the haze” is true to style. so maybe that’s why all the NA IPA heads are gushing over this beer, because it very well replicates an alcoholic juicy, hazy IPA.

for me the more subtle bitterness from multiple hops means i can tolerate it better, even with the grapefruit. i drank it with my dinner and it didn’t overwhelm it. i liked it enough to finish the whole thing and i will try another one before passing final judgement. but i might give away the rest of the six pack unless i have a very different experience, as i’m not sure given all my other options that i will want to reach for this beer over so many others. (i already have a few other citrus type beers that i like a lot more.) but i would probably be thrilled to find it as an option in a bar or restaurant that had limited NA options. so i’m glad i tried it to know what it’s like. and i learned something by trying it and doing the research – i learned what a hazy juicy IPA is!

(just for the record, according to sam adams’ site, this beer has an IBU of 35, which puts it in a moderate range though kinda low for an IPA. it has 98 calories per can, and it uses citra, mosaic, sabro, and cascade hops. the malts are listed as sam adams two-row pale malt blend, white wheat, golden naked oats.)

it’s still getting rolled out around the country (we JUST got it this week here in new orleans) but it will likely be THE most widely available craft NA IPA on the market since sam adams already has really wide distribution. i wouldn’t be surprised to eventually see this one on tap in the really devoted craft beer spaces as THE NA option. so maybe this beer will help sam adams get its groove back in the craft beer arena? we shall see.

bravus oatmeal stout (again) + rightside IPA

ok, first a quick update on the bravus oatmeal stout saga. though i sampled and already wrote about the bravus blonde and peanut butter stouts that their customer service sent me recently, i hadn’t felt in the mood for an oatmeal stout until now so hadn’t tried the replacements yet. i think maybe i was afraid of being disappointed again.

but i finally just did and i’m here to report that i really do think it was a freshness issue with the stock at total wine. because one of the new fresh ones they sent (see date stamp pic above) tastes fine, delicious even. i get a good slightly sweet aroma that is the hallmark bravus smell (what is that?!!!), but it’s not bad here. it’s balanced. i get a whiff of caramel, a little coffee, a little chocolate, a little nutty. it’s smooth and creamy, subtle well-distributed carbonation. had a nice head on it when poured though didn’t stick around long. it’s a rich dark brown almost black color you’d expect for an oatmeal stout. i’m not really getting the oatmeal very much, but it’s a good complex flavor that reads stout. they compare it to a guinness on their website but it’s a little sweeter than a guinness; but it’s yummy and shares a lightness and easy drinkability with it.

so check those date stamps and don’t buy it if it’s not fresh! (this is the hazard of being in a market where NAs are not turning over quickly at retail. also the offending cans did not have a date stamp so i had no idea how old it was.) again, thanks to bravus customer service for sending me replacement beers so i could clear their good name.

when i ordered from rightside brewery recently i got one six of their citrus wheat, which i’ve already exclaimed my delight about, but i also got a six of their IPA to share with a friend. i kept two of them even though i was not expecting to like them, but i’m trying to expand my palette and for the sake of having more things to write about i figured i’d give it a go. i have now drunk both of them and neglected to take a picture of the pour both times because they were both at night while i was socializing and i forgot. so here’s an artsy pic of the can. (my living room is my “studio” so excuse the mess.)

in both sampling situations i drank this IPA following one of their citrus wheats, which maybe wasn’t the best plan. i feel like it set me up to be disappointed because i love the citrus wheat so much and find it to have a delicious complex, refreshing flavor profile. this one simply did not read IPA to me at all. i didn’t smell a strong hops aroma; it was similar to the citrus wheat but maybe just a tad more of the hops and less of the tropical. flavor-wise, it was not as complex as the citrus wheat, seemed thinner and simpler, not as interesting. and the flavor weirdly evaporated as soon as it hit my throat. so i guess if you’re looking for a lighter beer, maybe this would work for you. it was fine as a second beer in both situations but it was noticeable to me how different it was than their other beer and i don’t think i’ll be buying it again. (i will however be placing another order for two sixes of the citrus wheat! that’s gonna be my summer beer!)

rightside brewing – citrus wheat

i am so excited to finally try this beer! shipping was pretty quick compared to a lot of the other breweries i’ve been ordering from online – probably because it came from atlanta, closer to me than most of the others. i ordered a six of each of the citrus wheat and the IPA – not because i like IPAs (though i do want to try it, just out of curiosity) but because i got it for a friend who likes IPAs and has started dipping her toes into the NA craft beer world since she just found out she’s pregnant. (emree woods, the founder of this brewery, started rightside cuz she was looking for a good NA beer to drink when she was pregnant with her first child, so it seemed appropriate!) i’ll be curious to hear what she thinks.

i really like their logo and colors and their overall bright, sunny branding. (if you haven’t checked out their blog on their website, you should cuz it’s full of empowering and inspirational posts, while also discussing their brewing process and the launch of the company. and look at that cute handwritten note! nice touch, really.

it pours a really gorgeous golden orange color with a pretty good head that gives off a slightly tropical aroma. nice body, not as thin as i expected it to be, but smooth and goes down easy with a crisp finish. i shoulda put a wedge of orange on there! (i even had oranges!) oh well, next time. i gotta say, this beer has a lot more going on than i expected from a wheat NA. i think this is gonna be a spring-summer favorite for me. definitely feels like i could drink a couple of these at a time, which i don’t always feel about many NA beers i’ve tried. (i think the beer dudes call that “crushable.” lol)

i think i only have one more new-to-me beer to test out, after the rightside IPA, that is en route to me via UPS. (athletic‘s trailblazer.) probably won’t be til next week sometime. then i need to not order any more beer for a while and just drink what i already have! it’s fun testing out all these new brews but my bank account can’t sustain this level of support for the NA craft beer industry. i really only drink one beer a night – two if i’m really adventuresome – so what i have in my kitchen should last me for a while.

but next i wanna get serious about trying to figure out how to get more local retail and maybe even some of my favorite bars to stock some of these. (yes, my organizer brain is kicking in.) cuz once things open back up more and more folks (including me) are fully vaccinated, i am really anxious to be back out at a bar for happy hour again! and while i might be tempted to have one alcoholic beer just to see how i do with it physically – i’ve really been CRAVING second line brewing‘s coffee blonde, one of my all-time favorites – i want to be able to moderate with some delicious tasting NAs too. to me, that would be the ideal situation, to have access to both at my favorite hangouts. right now, that is nonexistent – the only place i can drink these yummy NAs is at home – but hopefully with a little targeted prodding, that will change.