A five-pack of beer notes

Bear market
By LOU PAPINEAU  |  August 31, 2011

HopRod_main

BEERS OF THE WEEK As mentioned a few weeks ago, the great products from Bear Republic Brewing Co. have arrived in the Ocean State. Treat yourself to a bomber of the formidable Big Bear Black Stout, and make room in the refrigerator for racks of Racer 5 (an exemplary IPA); Red Rocket Ale (a "bastardized Scottish style red ale" bolstered with caramel malt); and especially Hop Rod Rye, a wonderful mutant American IPA/amber ale/rye beer (they call it a "specialty ale") with a rich, complex explosion of flavors and the beguiling distinctiveness of the rye (which I also enjoyed in Founders' hellagood Red's Eye PA; you'll have to go to Seekonk or Attleboro for that one). Now I have to get out there and try them on tap. Other emptied bottles: a Smuttynose Big A IPA (strong, at 9.7% ABV, yet smooth); a winning trio from Widmer Brothers (the very impressive Nelson Imperial IPA, Drifter Pale Ale, and X-114 IPA, the first from their limited edition Rotator IPA series); Clown Shoes' Lubrication, an American Black Ale which is a solid (and relatively mild, at 6% ABV) entry for the popular new style; and a Hinterland Amber Ale. The pint bottle just inspired a shrug (well, four shrugs; I wish I hadn't made the leap of faith for the four-pack), though I guess it's better for a beer to be inoffensive than undrinkable.

ON THE ROAD I made a stop in New Jersey last week to pick up a few brands that aren't available here (Anderson Valley's Hop Ottin' IPA, Terrapin's Hopsecutioner, Great Lakes' Commodore Perry IPA, some good ol" Yuengling), and a few beers that are remarkably cheaper in the Garden State. F'rinstance, Oskar Blues' G'Knight, formerly known as Gordon. A four-pack of the hugely flavorful imperial red cost $9.49 in Cherry Hill — it goes for $16 here! And many local stores are still stocking the brew from its Gordon days; one rack I saw last week had a born-on date of August 26 (unhappy birthday). Time to take that off the shelf, or move it to the clearance bin.

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NEW BREWS It's always fun to check the new beer labels at Beernews.org. Recent postings for forthcoming offerings include a few very intriguing boundary-pushers: Rogue Brewing has cooked up Voodoo Doughnut Maple Bacon Porter, made with chocolate malts, natural maple syrup, and vanilla beans and extract (yum?), while Victory, the high-quality Pennsylvania brewer, will issue Volver Ale, a wheat ale brewed with spices, concocted with Jose Garces of Iron Chef fame ( a "Victory & Garces Joint"). Sam Adams continues to mix it up with its limited edition batches; future bottles include Third Voyage, a double IPA; Tasman Red, a Red IPA made with Tasmanian hops; and the Vixen, a "chocolate chili bock" ale with cinnamon, spices, and cocoa nibs. And if you've enjoyed a Sixpoint Diesel on tap recently, you'll be glad to hear that the Brooklyn brewer's robust (and hoppy) stout will be available in their beautifully-designed 16-ounce cans around December 1.

WET, HOPS Yeah, it rained. And then it poured. But the pre-Irene mess didn't stop 600 hardy beer enthusiasts from heading to the shores of Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg on Saturday for the Indian Ranch Summer Brewfest. The roof over the reception area kept the revelers dry and the spirits high. I sampled most of the offerings from the New England brewers. The standouts: Hop Monster from Paper City Brewery (Holyoke, MA; they hope to resume distribution in Rhode Island soon); Long Trail's savory Double IPA (from their Brewmaster Series, available now in bombers); and everything we tried from Watch City Brewing Co., particularly the Hops Explosion IPA and the Lunar Shine Burley whine (a damn fine — and powerful — concoction); stop in for growlers if you're near Waltham, MA.

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