Marc (486) - Yokosuka, JAPAN - JUL 19, 2004
4.2 AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 18/20
I’m sitting in O’Brien’s (San Diego) and the bartender just put my beer in front of me not but 10 seconds ago. Through the smell of the beer in the trough, the dried stuff on the bar, the kitchen, the leather of my driving gloves, and the old cotton of my Jonny Cash t-shirt, I can smell caramel and big piney hops from the glass two feet in front of me. In the time it took me to write that the head has collapsed into a white veil with a couple of white fringed fish eyes on an amber body.
The nose, upon closer inspection, is fecund (there’s a snotty word for you) with pine, caramel chews, juniper, and fresh hop funk. As you can guess hops dominate the pallet in this one but with enough of that caramel maltieness from the nose to round it out and give the beer a big smooth thick mouthfeel.
I was expecting a brash hop-flavored kick in the teeth but the bitterness is like silk leaving plenty of pine forest and hop flowers on the tongue. It gets more of that funky quality as it warms as well as a touch of snow. The bitterness is everywhere like a subwoofer in your mouth.
As you can probably also guessed, it did indeed finish hoppy, but to my surprise only slightly bitter, just enough to let you know its been there.
Bohica (36) - British Columbia, CANADA - JUL 12, 2004
3.9 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 16/20
Draft: Pizza Port Solana Beach
WhooHoo! What an aroma! A definite snoot full of hops! Deep Golden Amber, lighter color than I expected. Did I mention hoppy? Lots of wonderful hop flavors melding with a rich maltiness to form a great palate pleasing 2IPA. Alcohol is very well disguised. good balance for such a big beer. NICE!
papajohn (1248) - San Diego (Mira Mesa), California, USA - JUN 26, 2004
4.2 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 18/20
Whoa baby, I can see why this is the most dangerous beer in America. Golden amber color with a small (bar pour) white head. Aroma is sweet (pineapple). Start is fruity sweet (citrus) then some tangy light bitterness with a long dry light orange rind bitter finish. Smooth and so well balanced you forget to sip slowly and the 10.5% ABV sneaks up on ya fast. Fanf#ckintastic!
HumuloneRed (751) - Portland, Oregon, USA - JUN 22, 2004
3.6 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 15/20
Draft at the AHA NHC ’04 in Vegas. I was told that this sample was young so next time I try it I’ll re-rate it. Murky golden. Good head with good lacing. Resiny, fishy and tea like notes. Dry finish.
DarkElf (3014) - La Jolla, California, USA - FEB 13, 2004
3.3 AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 14/20
UPDATED: JUN 24, 2004 (Draft: Double IPA tasting, O'Brien's in San Diego, CA) First tasting several months ago really wowed me, but this tasting was less impressive; More balanced than Pizza Port Frank; Initial maltiness turns somewhat unpleasant before fading in the finish; Strong alcohol is successfully masked; Fresh, floral hops from start to finish; Dark golden in color and clear; Large carbonation bubbles and an off white head; Some lacing; Almost no aroma whatsoever; Another tasting on 29-Apr-04 and YIKES! This one was so incredibly piney it was unpleasant; Must have put boughs of pine right in the beer; Strongly out of balance; But at least there was a mildly hoppy aroma and better body this time; Alpine needs to get a handle on the consistency of this beer; A fourth tasting was much better, less destructively piney, similar to earlier trials; It's much more balanced, though still predominantly a hoppy, piney beer with a significant, though less prominant maltiness; Clearly, this has proven to be hit or miss, depending on the batch
SG (465) - Valley Center, California, USA - FEB 11, 2004
4.1 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 18/20
An excellent beer. I've had it on draft and cask-conditioned. A very nice flavor that is incredibly smooth and somewhat sweet for how big the beer is. It has a nice bitterness on the end as well. Fairly complex.
unclebleen (620) - California, USA - FEB 8, 2004
4.5 AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 9/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 18/20
First of all, that fact that this is 10.5% (I think this batch might actually be 11%) is downright unbelievable. Amber in the glass with lacing like I've never seen before. Aroma is hops, hops and hops. But there's some malt in there peaking around the corner. Flavor is hops and malt in near perfect balance. Sweet yet bitter. Body is silky smooth. Great beer.
SDbruboy (1864) - San Diego, California, USA - FEB 8, 2004
4.2 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 18/20
Draft at Liars Club. Arrived in the glass slightly hazy golden-amber color. Aroma is a rush of hops, citrus, pine along with a rich malt nose. Sweet and citrusy, lots of hop bitterness but well balanced. Despite the 10.5 ABV the alcohol is barely noticible. Rich creamy body feels so smooth on in the mouth. Yummy, just about sums is up for this delightful brew.
Vac (2445) - San Diego, California, USA - JAN 27, 2004
4.3 AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 18/20
I had the 2003 and 2004 at O'brien's 10th anniversary party.
The body is a clear orange, topped by a thin head with some lacing. The aroma is slightly sweet yet slightly bitter with piney, grapefruity hop notes and a nice maltiness in the background. Some tropical fruit notes are also apparent. The flavor is bitter and piney yet slightly sweet and hoppy as hell with notes of grapefruit and other tropcal fruits. Medium to full bodied, relatively smooth and slightly dry.
The body is a hazy orange and is topped with a medium thick head with lots of lacing left behind. The aroma is similar to the '04 with more sweetness and a bit weaker. The flavor is sweeterthan the '04 but still bitter and piney. Medium to full bodied, relatively smooth and but not a dry.
cquiroga (371) - Tujunga, California, USA - JAN 6, 2004
3.9 AROMA 10/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 16/20
12/5/03. On tap at Pizza Port Strong Ale Festival in Carlsbad, CA 12/5/03. Crystal clear color of medium gold amber. Huge, dense, lasting off-white head with decent lacing. Delicious nose, absolutely the best part of this beer for me-- floral and complex with malt and delicate hops. Bitter, grainy flavor (like livestock grain-- not a good thing). Very smooth until the dirty, punishing finish. Taste is a little off to me, still too much nice stuff here to get upset about it.