Re-posted from my blog: Malted Musings.
Though I posted my dark secret about Lagunitas Brewing Company before, I felt I would be remiss in my blogging duties if I didn't give this creative brewery another go around! So, when they came around to Eli Cannon's Tap Room the other day, I was there waiting to check out their new stuff. Up for tasting this time around was the Rye Barrel Aged Cappuccino Stout, Maximus, and Fusion 16.
Hearing that there was literally only 1 barrel of the Aged Cappuccino Stout in CT, I gave it my full attention first. This beer smells deeply, clearly of coffee, along with tones of rye whiskey on the nose. This beer pours out a dark chocolate toffee color with a dull head sitting thick and heavy on top. At first taste I get a blast of sweet cappuccino to the nose which quickly moves to a bright, earthy wood tone that balances the tone and settles it into the back of my throat. From here the taste builds to a brighter, hoppier note, until it peaks with a sharp stab of alcohol that's tinged with thick coffee. The mix of the hops, sweetness, and alcohol end out balancing the taste and making an after tone that's almost totally neutral and clean. This beer is altogether big. The aftertaste genuinely tastes of a rye whiskey, tinged with a sweet coffee taste. Altogether this beer is impossibly balanced: it's a slightly bitter beer tone that takes on sharp alcoholic overtones, but is completely balanced out with a smooth, rich, sweet coffee tone. This beer is an accomplishment and I hope to see more like this coming from the brewery real soon!
The next beer I had was firmly in the wheelhouse of Lagunitas: the Maximus (described on their site as a 'bigger, badder version of their favorite style'). This beer smells crisp, clear, and sharply hoppy. It pours out a murky golden color with a bright, fluffy head on top. There's a surprising sweetness off the taste of this beer that immediately moves to the nose, and fills the senses with a broad stroke of bitter hops. This heavy, hoppy flavor moves to and lingers on the back of the palate, remaining bright and slightly sour. From here the taste gradually fades out, stinging bitter on the back of the throat until it finally dissipates. This is a beer that starts light, but moves up to a medium bodied beer in a startling amount of time through that broad band of bitters. Altogether this is a bright, hoppy beer that relies on sharp, bitter hoppings to amp up the taste and linger heavily on the palate.
Last but not least I had the Fusion 16. This beer pours out a deep golden tone, with that great Lagunitas fluffy bright head on top. It smells bright and floral, and at first taste I get a nose full of bright hops. From here the main taste sets in and I go from the full, bright floral/citrus bitters to an immediate drop-out of the taste. The nose remains (with those sharp bitters), lingering with sharpness and hints of citrus until it finally fades away. This is an interesting medium IPA-esque beer that is propped up nearly entirely with bright hopping that wedges itself firmly in my nose. The citrus hopping, though, is quite nice: not too sharp and prickly -it just feels like the perfect amount of bitter. This is a very bright beer, light on malting, and very high on bitters. If nothing else it remains as an interesting sensory beer: whose flavor resides mostly in the nose, and not on the tongue palate.
Altogether I enjoyed the spread of Lagunitas that I tried. I do still think that some of the hoppier beers relied a bit too heavily on just the notion of "being REALLY bitter," but the rye barrel Cappuccino stout was so good that it was an almost singular experience for me. In other words: the verdict is still out on Lagunitas for me, but I will gladly keep trying more of their wares! For more on Lagunitas, check out my notes from the brewing rep (coming soon). And for more info on local beer in general, follow me on on Blogger, Twitter, and Facebook!