Me and Hazy IPAs, Featuring Henhouse Brewing’s Keanu is Immortal

henhouse brewing co hazy juicy ipa keanu is immortal

Hazy IPAs Confuse the Beer Drinker In Me

This is a beer. I often have to remind myself that when I’m offered a freshly canned and super trendy beer in the SF bay area. I’m only 30, but I’ve been drinking IPAs for a decade, which has turned me into the closest thing to a grouchy old beer enthusiast who still gets carded from time to time.

Overall, hazy IPAs are good for craft beer. They’re the boozy training wheels that a new generation of beer fans have cut their teeth on. A gateway into the world of beer beyond marco lagers, but we’ll have to see how many of these new found fans transition away from hazies to their local breweries other offerings. The catch that I’m wary of, the other beers probably taste like beer…

In a world where there are businesses everywhere finding new ways to package and sell alcohol, it is easier than ever to find an alternative to beer. With a generation of beer fans raised on beer that tastes like melted, citrus ice cream, will the breweries out there cultivating this fan base be able to keep them interested?

Maybe. I hope so at least. We’re nearing the end of a time when you can go into a tap room with ten IPAs on, only to find out that not a single one is clear. I am grateful for this fact. But, it would be disheartening to see the tide of the hazy IPA trend go out and sweep all of those fans out with it, and toward some other fruity, alcohol-infused beverage. Hazy IPAs are here to stay, I have little doubt of that. Although, despite their huge popularity, they’re an outlier style in the world of beer as far as flavor. There is nothing else like a fresh, but not too fresh, juicy, IPA, and that is how they’ve risen to they heights they have. They’re the most popular style of IPA, which is the most popular style of beer. My hesitation comes from the thought of consumers getting tired of the style and trying something else at their local, craft brewery, only to realize that they don’t much like any beer that isn’t a hazy IPA.

There are so many styles out there to get interested in, whether they’re traditional, historic, or completely new. They all have aspects in common so enthusiasts are able to network themselves from one style to the next. That’s the adventure of craft beer. That network of similar aspects ends with hazy IPAs though. I just wonder how this generation of craft beer drinkers will, or might not, move beyond hazy IPAs, when the previous generations all got their start with Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and the like, classics that left almost endless avenues to find related beer.

Henhouse Brewing Co.’s Keanu is Immortal Hazy IPA Tasting Notes:

Appearance:

Haze Craze

You Know

Aroma:

It legitimately smells like a floral version of orange sherbet

Mouthfeel:

Has a thicker and less crisp character than I prefer, but lacks the gritty, turbid texture of some hazy IPAs

Flavor:

Hop driven, but not like a beer

Big orange blossom honey and orange marmalade flavor. Like a orange sherbet with a slight spice and bitterness too it, almost not enough to notice. The beer is focused on an orange juiciness that it follows through on, with just a hint of green, fresh cut grass that adds a tinge of bitterness. It’s not like chewing through orange or mango sherbet, but it’s closer to a frozen dessert that recently melted in the sun than anything I would ever imagined a decade ago when I was first getting my hands on craft beer.

Evil Twin Brewing Molotov Lite – Beer Thoughts

evil twin brewing molotov lite beer imperial ipa archer

The Approachable, Clear Imperial IPA

I was recently turned on to Evil Twin Brewing because the owner, Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø, was heavily featured in a VinePair article about the ticker culture of the new that’s taking over craft beer. I know the brewery and I’ve had some of their offering from time to time, but the quotes in the article let me know that I liked their owner’s style.

In the article, he vented his frustration with beer drinkers seeking out everything that is new rather than what is good. Just about everyone loves trying a new beer, but there is a distinct line between enjoying a new beer and trying one that you never want to have again once you’ve had it once. It seemed like me and Evil Twin Brewing have a good amount in common, so I wanted to try more of their beers.

Low and behold, I find Evil Twin Brewing’s Molotov Lite. Molotov Lite is an imperial IPA riff on natty ice design. They brewed it in an attempt to bring some life back to the everyday happy hour of light lagers that Americans only somewhat enjoyed for so many decades. The “ale brewed with natural flavors” tagline is a nice touch if the blue, black, and silver geometric design didn’t clue you in to the joke.

Getting past the personal appeal of the can, this is a killer beer that has a lot to offer. On the surface, it’s a good and bitter American Imperial IPA clocking in at 8.5%abv. But once you get to know it a little, the bitterness and alcohol warmth steps aside to reveal a bouquet of orange blossom honey, cantaloupe, and a hint of resinous pine tar that is a near perfect blend for me personally.

As far as my first critical take on a beer from Evil Twin Brewing, I couldn’t have gotten more lucky with my choice. College days reminiscent can art laid the foundation for an Imperial IPA experience that might’ve been my favorite of the year. I doubt it’s for everyone, but damn I almost feel like this beer was brewed for me.

Who Is This For:

Anyone who enjoys hop forward beers that have a little bite and has been drinking them for a bit. This is definitely a bit more abrasive on the palate and hides it’s fruit character a bit more than a juicy double IPA, but the flavor similarities are their, albeit arranged completely differently. If you’re looking for a non-hazy Imperial IPA that won’t beat you up too much, but won’t go easy on you either, this is a solid step up in complexity from your average hazy DIPA.

Evil Twin Molotov Lite Tasting Notes

Appearance: Golden-orange in color. Decent head retention after pouring with a solid head of big bubbles. Translucent, with a slight orange hue and blur.

Aroma: You can smell the buzz that comes along with this Double IPA, it’s not hiding the alcohol like some modern IPAs. But, along with the ever so slight and interesting burn, you get a big orange blossom aroma with a touch of resinous pine tar to even it out.

Taste: Big bitterness with a blend of orange blossom herbal tea and cantaloupe. Despite this beer feeling decently dry, the alcohol content gives it a perceived sweetness that really sets off the fruity character of the hops. Thankfully, the fruit character isn’t as in your face, you have to sort through the bitterness and subtle burn to find the solid citrus and tropical character. You have to work for it just a little. Once it warms up a hair, it’s almost straight grapefruit pulp and pith, the sweet and the bitter.

Mouthfeel: Somewhat dry but deceiving because of the alcohol content. It coats your palate with intense flavors and a big body for a clear IPA, then slowly dissipates to leave a bit of warmth and bitterness. It almost feels like it finishes dry for an 8.5% double IPA until you realize its coated your mouth with a bitter and slightly tropical nectar.

Overall: This beer makes you work for it, and I love it. First impression, it’s a pretty standard American Double IPA. It’s clear and a golden orange hue with big bitterness and an overwhelming flavor. Then you break through the initial barrier. It’s good from the start, but then it becomes phenomenal. This is one of my favorite imperial IPAs that I’ve had, and one of my favorites in recent memory.

The Dark Souls of Super Mario Odyssey

dark souls super mario odyssey
Image courtesy of Reddit

Lessons from Mario Odyssey and Dark Souls

I played a lot of Super Mario Odyssey after its release. I didn’t plan on getting any other games to compete with it until I had done just about everything. I stuck with it for 503 moons.

I had a lot of fun and got a ton of it done, but the darker side of the moon got the best of me. I feel like I beat my head against it every night for nearly a week to no avail. Despite the time I’d put in, I was no match for the last stage of Mario’s Odyssey.

That was months ago now, and other games have come and gone. My wife recently decided to start playing Odyssey and is having a great time getting back into games. She rarely plays them, but Mario Odyssey set its hooks in her. She’s nearly 300 moons in and not letting up. With her playing so much right in front of me, I had to get back into it for another try at the darker side of the moon.

I beat it my third attempt.

I hadn’t even seen the entire level the last time I was playing through. I know I’ve only gotten worse since it’s been months, but the puzzles and elements just made more sense. I remembered trying to do parts in ways that didn’t make sense this time through. After giving up on it months ago, it felt weird to finish the stage with relative ease.

It, like so many other moments in gaming, reminded me of Dark Souls. The first time I beat the original Dark Souls game, I had stayed up until around 4am the night before fighting against the final boss, Gwyn, the Lord of Cinder. I finally relented and headed to bed. I got back to it at around 7:30am and finished him off in a handful more attempts. He is regarded as a rather simple boss over the course of the game, being that he’s basically a burnt out and fading god. I was just too frustrated and tired to read his choreographed attacks and patterns.

I’m not sure what happened with the darker side of the moon, as I was trying it day after day, but I’m sure stubbornness had a role in it. In a segment near the end with those colorful little fuzzball burrbos and pulse beams that shoot out circles of fire, I remember trying to use the pulse beams to clear the burrbos. Going back, it’s really tricky to avoid both, so just taking out the burrbos with my hat made much more sense. I don’t think I even considered that before. Also, I definitely had to look up what those enemies proper names are.

It was interesting to see how much simpler the level looked with a fresh new perspective. There’s a life lesson in here of course, but I think it’s more about playing Dark Souls.

AB InBev on the Death of Craft Beer

AB-InBev Gives Craft Beer a “Couple Years”

AB-InBev has been getting some heat based on a video the released showing members of The High End talking about the death of craft beer coming within “a couple years time.” I certainly have some issues with the video and how the idea presented,  but that point isn’t one of them. The term craft beer might be dead in a few years. That could be for the best, and it could really hurt AB-InBev.

6_pack brewers association independent craft beer sealGoodbye Craft, Hello Independent

Enthusiasts of the craft beer industry have likely seen the branding around the Brewers Association’s latest campaign. The newest leg, “Seek the Seal,” implores beer drinkers to be on the look out for their Independent Craft Brewer Seal the next time that they’re out at a brewery, bar, or beer store. This seal denotes that a product is made by an independently owned brewer that follows the BA’s definition of a craft brewer, though that subject is getting murkier as the industry develops. Yes, the seal still features the term “craft” that the Brewers Association has been using to define itself for years, but the focus is now on that first term, independent.

The BA’s definition of what constitutes a craft brewery has largely been supported by the industry of small brewers, but that’s predominantly from an industry professional position. To the average consumer, craft beer is just high-quality beer, which can be seen as anything aside from the American macro lagers that just about everyone is familiar with.

The issue with craft beer is not the industry or the quality of the product for the BA, it is the term craft. Craft is too generic for where they see their mission statement pointing them. AB-InBev can and does make full flavored beer that some people really enjoy and see as high quality. They see it as craft. The BA’s specific definition does nothing for the average person grabbing a 6-pack on their way to a friends house to denote where they want consumers to look.

brewbound nielsen craft beer survey independent The Value of Independence

It’s not just the BA or the brewers that wants this clarity. In May of 2017, Brewbound and Nielsen collaborated on a survey of beer drinkers about what influenced their purchasing decisions. 81% of the 2,000 beer drinkers surveyed said that the terms “independent or independently owned” resonated with them and it was determined to be the most positively influential descriptor on the survey. Terms also included words like “sour” and “hazy” both of which negatively influenced purchasing decisions in 2017. Oh, how our tastes and trends have changed.

Americans like supporting others on their way to the “American dream,” especially if that dream involves making beer! When the average consumer sees a new IPA in the beer aisle with a clever name  and a list of hops used, most assume they’re supporting a local, small business when they buy it. The BA wants to make it absolutely clear to people the difference between an independent craft beer, and what the industry has labelled as “crafty” beer, breweries that want to be capitalize on the popularity of local brewers but are owned by large scale macro-breweries.

Whether Elysian, Ballast Point, or Blue Point are some of your favorite breweries out there or not isn’t the point. The Brewers Association is trying to make it as clear as possible whether your next beer purchase is supporting a locally owned craft brewer, or one of the largest beer companies in the world. It’s not a statement about the quality of their beer, it’s about the story behind it.

Newest Article – The Birth of Brut IPA

brut ipa craftbeer.com article featureNew CraftBeer.com Article on the Brut IPA

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Kim Sturdavant of Social Kitchen and Brewery in San Fransisco about the development of his own beer style that has recently been gaining traction on the world beer scene for CraftBeer.com.

Brut IPA is an emerging beer style developed by Kim that focuses on ultra dry and easy drinking American IPAs that feature fruit forward hops. For more info about the style, how it’s made, and what it feels like to be solely responsible for a brand new style of beer, you can check out the full story of the Brut IPA on CraftBeer.com.

The Witcher 3’s Tribute to Paul Walker

 

paul walker fast and furious gif
Image Courtesy of Universal Pictures

Illegal Street Racing as Geralt

I’m finally finishing up The Witcher 3, year too late I know, and just participated in an illegal street race that is a subtle nod to the late and great Paul Walker and the Fast and Furious series.

It’s well documented that there is an achievement titled “Fast and Furious” that players can earn by winning all of the horse races throughout the game, but I couldn’t find any record of this other reference to the series, and Paul Walker specifically.

witcher 3 palio paul walker race
Image Courtesy of CP Projekt Red

A Race for Cash, and Respect

The race I’m referring too takes place as part of “The Great Erasmus Vegelbud Memorial Derby” side quest. After you beat every other contestant in the derby, you are crowned champion and subsequently approached my one of Cleaver’s henchman, Cleaver is a dwarf crime boss in the city of Novigrad. Meeting with Cleaver results in him inviting you to compete in an underground and illegal street race through the city of Novigrad. There’s a vague reference here to Fast and Furious being that’s  it’s an “illegal street race” in a fantasy setting, which seems intentional, but it is also still part of the previously mentioned “Memorial” side quest and the race is known as the Palio for no discernable reason. Still pretty thin I know, I didn’t even make the connection yet, I had to replay the section after the race.

The King of Beggars isn’t exactly one of the scantily clad women that kicks off almost every race in Fast and Furious movies, but the line about respect is an obvious allusion to the scene in the original Fast and the Furious movie where Paul Walker’s character makes himself know the street racing kingpin, Dominic Toretto.

“I lose, winner takes my car, clean and clear. But if I win, I take the cash, and I take the respect… To some people that’s more important.”

The Palio is introduced as, “above all, a race of honor,” where, “the winner doesn’t  just win a reward, he earns our respect as well.” Taken altogether, this is a wonderful tribute to the late Paul Walker that seems to have been completely overlooked by most fans. Given that I’m a huge fan of the Fast and Furious and now the Witcher games, it was still pretty subtle overall.

But that’s not all! The icing on the cake is that after the races conclusion, there’s a humorous nod to the police chase following the race in the movie, except it’s a dwarf shouting, “temple guard, scatter,” rather than a street racer yelling, “we’ve got cops, cops, cops, go!” over a mic.

Someone at CD Projekt Red is obviously a fan alongside me, and that only makes me love the experience that is the Witcher 3 even more.

 

Microsoft at E3 and Beyond With Nintendo

Xbox-E3 2018 press conference briefingI’m Still Impressed by Microsoft at E3 2018

E3 is now long gone, it’s been weeks, an eternity in the games industry. Now, most fans are reflecting on the game announcements and release dates and biding their time. Somewhat strangely, I’m still lingering on Microsoft’s press conference. Especially since Nintendo and Microsoft released this:

Microsoft is trying to make the most of this flawed generation, but like the business veterans they are, they’re always focused on the long game. Teasing obvious new hardware and new studio acquisitions are significant, but what keeps me interested is the Xbox Game Pass. Even with how limited their first party offerings are, you get great value based on the $10/month price point. If I were any less into following the industry and the obscure games than I currently am, Game Pass would be my set it and forget it ticket to gaming.

I’m rarely playing the new hotness. I’m now getting around to The Witcher 3 and the years old Resident Evil 1 remake is up next. These are games that I picked out at least a year ago. The point here is that Game Pass’ aged inventory is almost a non-issue to me, and a ton of people like me. I would’ve been stoked when they announced the arrival of Fallout 4, I’m still excited to check out New Vegas after all.

Acquiring all of those new studios and committing their full effort to the Xbox platform is a big deal, but especially in regard to Xbox Game Pass. Playstation’s first party offerings are killing it, I still think about re-buying a PS4 to replay Bloodborne and God of War only makes it more tempting. Do I need to play through Bloodborne again? No. Is God of War worth a console purchase when I have a PC and a Switch already? Debatable. But they’re good enough to make you think about it. That is what every console maker wants and where Microsoft aims to be in the next few years with their new studios. Game Pass could make that come true with an outstanding value proposition.

Microsoft and Nintendo teaming up to promote Minecraft is crazy interesting. Yes, they’re partnering to capitalize on Playstation’s current bad press, but it’s still relatively unprecedented in the current landscape. Phil Spencer is regularly documented saying that he doesn’t care what device you play Minecraft on, he just cares that you play Minecraft. With Microsoft already teasing the next generation of hardware and the near inevitability of a sort of streaming option for Xbox Game Pass in the future, what’re the chances of me streaming Fallout 4 on Xbox Game Pass to my Nintendo Switch Pro in four years when I finally get around to playing it?

Crazier things have happened, maybe not in the games industry though. Let me know what you think of my farfetched ideas in the comments below and thanks for reading!

Update: Nintendo just announced a Minecraft edition New 2DS XL today! That has to be a good sign for third party relations.