Archive for the 'Clipper City' category
I recently tried this beer during a trip to Richmond, VA. All the while, I realized I had a bomber of this sitting in my fridge back home. However, the folks at Capital Ale House were sadly out of their most primo and bizarro offerings on the menu. After running down the list of great beers (and being told they were out of stock), I decidedly had my mind set on a big, ballsy beer. Being a superfan of Clipper City’s big offerings, I had a feeling the Big DIPA was my option of last resort. And, I was correct. Now, here I am back home, so I’ma give you a short review.
The Big DIPA pours a fairly clear and very deep amber color with lots of carbonation and a thin caramel head that froths up, but quickly subsides to a silky sheet over the surface of the beer. In the nose, this is chock full of big, bitter, fresh hops – it smells wonderful, in fact. The flavor of this is just as big as we’ve come to expect from the folks at Clipper City. It is initially quite bitter on the tip of the tongue. However, a rather syrupy sweetness from the malt quickly rises up to squelch some of that hop (but not nearly all of it). A sweetness blended with a delicious floral hop rides the tongue all the way to the back of the mouth, where the malty sweetness slides down the throat while the hop flavor shoots up the nasal passage. These two flavors live, segregated, in the aftertaste for quite some time, giving this a flavor that sticks with you for quite some time. All in all, it’s a IIPA that lives up there with the best of the best. I’ve had tons of these, many of which are great. The Big DIPA exhibits both a strength of character and a balance of flavor that is quite impressive. So, I suppose I’ll keep waiting to eventually be disimpressed by a Clipper City beer, because this one surely isn’t the one to do it.
I’m standing by my previous claims that Clipper City beers have some serious cojones. I absolutely love their Heavy Seas series. Frankly, I don’t think I’ve ever had any of their beers outside of this series. Every one of the Heavy Seas beers pushes the limits of its chosen genre. But, they’re also tastefully made with care, instead of just throwing massive amounts of ingredients at an imperial ale. So, basically, I’m impressed – big beers that are both adventurous and sophisticated – that’s what I’d call Clipper City’s Heavy Seas brews…
I notice that Clipper City is moving away from the naming customs on this particular doppelbock. In case you didn’t know, a doppelbock should traditionally end with “-ator”, like “terminator” or “eliminator”. But, I’m guessing that if it’s a wheat version of a doppelbock, then we must get a pass, ’cause Clipper City surely wouldn’t have such liberties with such an established tradition. Anyway, on with the brew.
This beer pours a very dark, chocolatey brown color. There is some obvious debris, but not so much that you can’t see through this in front of a light. There is some thin caramel head to this, but it dissipates quickly and is no predominant presence. In the nose, the first sensation is a spicy yeast, which is certainly unexpected given the color. In addition, there is some powerful sweetness reminiscent of dark fruit, primarily grape. There is some bready richness here, but it is subdued in the scent and you have to look for it. In the mouth… flavor explosion. This is certainly a big beer, and that’s no surprise. However, the scope and size of the flavor surprises me. Early on the tongue, my first impression is of how thick and syrupy the mouthfeel is – quite silky. Also, there isn’t any major flavor at first, but this quickly changes as a dark grape and cherry explosion takes place about the middle of the tongue. This bunch of fruit goodness is joined by some heavy yeast flavors reminiscent of a good dunkelweizen, but understandably exaggerated. Really, the rich malt never rears it’s head here, and there isn’t any noticeable bitterness. What we have is a beer that is rich with fruity sweetness in the flavor, but with a thick and silky mouthfeel reminiscent of a big, dark doppelbock or stout. You can get some chocolate and toffee, especially in the aftertaste, but what really strikes me is just how much dark fruit comes out of such a ‘different’ looking beer. This is an excellent showing by Clipper City. It’s not a cheap beer at around $10 for a 4/pack, but it’s huge in flavor and big on content at 10% abv, and I think you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t try it out.
After my debacle a couple of nights ago with a lackluster saison ale, I decided to give it another go with this offering from the folks at Clipper City. This is from their “High Seas” series which, as far as I can tell, is as consistent a collection of American craft ‘big’ beers as you can find on shelves lately – every single offering has been good or better, according to my palate.
The Red Sky pours a slightly cloudy dark golden color with a white head that quickly dissipates to nothing. The nose of this beer is richer and maltier than I usually expect from a saison – very little of the tangy sourness that often earmarks this variety of beer. In the mouth, this beer is equally rich. From the front to the back of the mouth, this beer is full of rich malt. The beer is warming and tastes of sweet bread, with a very full mouthfeel. Frankly, there isn’t a whole lot of the saison sourness that I like. You can taste it peak its head out around the middle of the tongue. It’s a welcome taste, and complements the malt well. However, it quickly tucks back in and disappears for the duration of this beer. What we end up with is a very rich and malty beer with just a light sourness and some hints of spice. Honestly, this is a very tasty beer – very tasty. I like it a lot, and I would drink it again. However, it isn’t REALLY a saison, in the traditional sense. It isn’t very refreshing – rather, it’s rich and leaves a coating around the mouth that wouldn’t help out much at all when you’re thirsty. So, frankly, this is one of the last beers I would reach for after a tough day in the fields, which is the origin of the saison (or French farmhouse) ale. So, I can’t hate on Clipper City, because they’ve made a great beer. However, calling it a saison is a bit of a reach. There are some saison characteristics here – not sure what else I would call it – but it’s certainly a divergence from the traditional take.
Well, dag nabbit (as my good friend, Roy Williams, might say) – I really thought I had found a new brew when I saw the Holy Sheet on the shelf. However, I’m now hearing that this beer first debuted back in early 2007. So, where have I been? And, why wasn’t this beer on NC shelves in 2007? Frankly, I’m insulted. But, frankly, I’m still glad to try this beer. Clipper City makes some serious brews, and they make some big brews. I’m curious to see what they can do with a genre that is, by nature, pretty serious and big already.
The Holy Sheet pours a surprisingly clear, but deliciously dark ruby red. There is a medium off-white head for just a bit, but it quickly sizzles down to nothing. The aroma of the beer is fairly mild, but full of spice. I’m sensing a fair amount of cinnamon here, but there is also some licorice involved. On the tongue, the initial sensation is a light sweetness that isn’t entirely large. However, the flavor does fill out a bit as the beer travels down the tongue. This beer is slippery and rich in the mouth, going from lightly sweet to rich and maple-y, ending with a mild holiday spiciness with a mediocre bitter kick. The aftertaste does stick around on the back of the mouth for a bit, leaving us with a lingering mild bitterness. Honestly, I’m not near as blown away by this beer as I have been by other Clipper City brews. However, what can you expect? The Belgian abbey ale category is chock full of exceedingly delicious beers, and may have as tough an arena as any varietal out there. So, for what it is, this is a tasty brew – better than most even, but not one of the best abbey-style ales you’ll have.
Okay, that’s it! I’ve officially cleaned my fridge of all the Clipper City beers that I had sitting around waiting for reviews. It’s a proud day, and a sad day, ’cause these was a bunch of tasty beers, I tell ya’.
This one pours a very clear dark amber, which is a bit of a surprise. The rest of the Clipper City brews have had at least a bit of debris to them, so I’m surprised at how well filtered this bad boy is. The aroma is very sweet – it reminds me of cane sugar with just a bit of maple. It’s a sweeter aroma than I get from most barleywine ales, but it still holds on to its roots well enough that you can tell what it is. In the mouth, this is pretty burly. The first taste has a pretty good dose of sweet licorice in it, and this quickly moves to a new sweetness on the middle of the tongue that resemble maple and a bit of cherry. Towards the back of the mouth, I get more dark cherry, and maybe just a tinge of brown sugar. It seems to me that this amounts to a lot of myriad flavors from this beer, so I hope my tastebuds aren’t just going crazy. But, hey, I call ‘em like I see ‘em. Regardless, I find this to be a very tasty beer. It’s a big and full-flavored barleywine ale, but it isn’t too thick or cloying in the mouth. Rather, I think it represents the genre quite well in both size and balance. Another good job from the folks at Clipper City. I’m anxious to try out more of their stuff when it comes around.
Now, it’s possible that I’m just a big seasonal pansy. That’s quite possible. But, be that as it may, I’m going to go ahead and recommend that you not save too many imperial stouts to be enjoyed on balmy summer nights when you’re sitting on the couch sweating. Trust me, it’s just not the best way to do things. Even so, this is a pretty good beer.
This brew pours a motor oil black color with a thin caramel colored head, and it smells heavy of toffee with hints of chocolate and coffee. In the mouth, this is very rich. There is a lot of toffee also in the taste, however the predominant flavor I’m getting is coffee. It has a viscous and full mouthfeel and coats the tongue with all of its coffee goodness. This continues through the throat, leaving you with a great aftertaste that is both sweet and slightly bitter with some hazelnut tints. Compared to a lot of imperial stouts (and the coffee/breakfast stouts I’ve enjoyed recently), this is relatively simple. However, the straightforward presentation of the flavors doesn’t detract – this really is a great beer. I’ve gotta be honest and tell you that, compared to the other Clipper City imperial brews I’ve had, this is probably my least favorite. But, by saying that, I’m still saying that this is a fabulous brew. This whole line of Clipper City offerings is just impeccable for the price, and they also sell them in 12-pack samplers that have 3 each of 4 great imperial brews – you’ll be only half a man if you see one of those and don’t buy it.
I’ve had about 3 of these Clipper City brews sitting in my fridge for over a month now, and I really don’t know why. I really love these beers – I think Clipper City has done a phenomenal job on just about every variety of imperial brew that I can imagine. So, I guess the reason I haven’t reviewed these yet is just because I know it’ll be another, “Yeah, it’s great, I like it,” kind of review, and those aren’t as much fun as when we’ve got something unique to say. Oh well, such is life. Here you go.
This beer pours a fairly light brown color and smells light a fresh-baked loaf of bread with just a bit of nut – it isn’t too sweet, just very rich and malty. In the mouth, this tastes just like what an imperial ESB needs to be. It’s full and silky, has tons of malt, and a rich bready sweetness with just a tinge of a more refined caramel flavor. There is also a hop profile that is quite a bit more expressive than I normally expect from this genre. This beer has the interesting trait of feeling fairly light across most of the mouth, but then sticking to the back of the mouth like a bad habit, but a very tasty bad habit. The aftertaste lasts for quite some time, and leaves you with a rich sweetness that just begs you to have another drink. I thoroughly enjoy this beer and, while it may not be the best summer ale out there, it’s still great when you’re looking for something rich and high in abv.
Honestly, these folks at Clipper City make a fine brew. It’s a shame we haven’t given them more attention here on SevenPack. The good news is that I have two more of their brews in the fridge, prime for reviewin’ – so be expectin’ those soon. The other good news is that they make a serious 12-pack sampler that includes 3-each of 4 excellent and very big beers, and it’s pretty cheap. I think you should all go out and buy 2 for yourselves.
The initial pour of this beer is a golden/amber that is just slightly cloudy. it is also very effervescent and bubbles like a demon in the glass, which is nice. The aroma here is chock full of rich floral hops – one of my favorite aromas in the world, right up there with the smell of “fresh ice cream sandwich”. In the mouth, this beer is also a delight. It starts off hoppy, stays hoppy across the tongue, and leaves a hoppy aftertaste – and I’m not talking metallic English hops – I’m talking big, flowery, aromatic, bitter northwestern US hops. Mmmm mmm! There is also a pretty big malt character in this beer that offsets the hops and gives a sweetbread backbone to the beer. This flavor doesn’t take away from the hops at all, but does make the beer feel a bit bigger and a bit richer – I like. So, like I said, it’s a good beer, and go out and buy some for yourself.
My instincts usually whisper, “Avoid the pilsners,” in hushed tones while shopping in fine beer stores. “You will meet only disappointment. Light tastes unworthy of high prices. Go with hops, young man. Go with hops.” But here was an über pils—how could I resist? And one that warned of “Heavy Seas” no less. It was an irresistible siren song. So what a delight to discover no siren this brew. Unfiltered, it offers a delicious honeyed hew that pleasantly foreshadows a hint of honey in the aftertaste (but not an overpowering sweetness—merely evocative of mead). This über pils is thick, offering a heavy feel that is enhanced by its relatively low level of carbonation and its 7.5% alcohol content. In all, this “Small Craft Warning” I take instead as a “Big Beer Recommendation” which will make me more likely to try more brews from Clipper City.