Today I’m hanging out with my little brother Nick, running some errands. First and foremost, we have to get my little brother Nick sized for a suit. Why you ask? He won the Horatio Alger Nation Scholarship. I’m so proud of him. The award is only given to 104 students in the entire US and goes to candidates who have had a rough start to life, but are on the track to doing great things. I too won the award back in 1997, which makes Nick winning it that much more special! While we are gallivanting around town, Silvio will be handling the blogging duties. This week Silvio’s dog Frank also makes an appearance.
Bit of a crazy week for me. I got a sweet new job (awesome), told my current job I was leaving and started transitioning out (not so awesome), almost had to travel to Saudi Arabia (that would have sucked), and wifey started a new job which meant extra dog duty for me (he’s cute so we’ll call that one a wash).
Thus, I was ready to drink some beer. I went with two IPAs, which LIBA faithful know are my favorite brew. I picked up a four-pack of Tuppers Hop Pocket Ale, brewed by St. George Brewing Company in Hampton, Virginia, and my all-time favorite IPA, 21st Amendment’s Brew Free or Die IPA.
I started with the Tuppers, simply because I’ve never had it before. The case caught my eye, with lots of great artwork which seems to depict colonial Virginia. As I opened the bottle, foam rushed out and I had to quickly pour it into my glass so it didn’t spill. Seems it was as excited to be drunk as I was to drink it! This beer pours a really thick, resilient foam head. The color was cloudy and dark, almost orange.
Aroma- and taste-wise, this is a hop lover’s dream. I got lots of nice floral hop notes on the aroma, and they definitely pull through to the first taste. The hops are also quite bitter, though the bitterness goes away pretty quickly. The hoppy notes stick around through the middle, but I got a bit of a metallic tinge on the very end before another surge of hops and malts. Overall, this is a really delicious beer with a 6.0% ABV and a fascinating back story.
I was a little concerned about reviewing the Brew Free or Die because I’ve had it dozens of time, both at home and on tap at 21st Amendment’s brewery in San Francisco. This is the go-to IPA for wifey and me, (as evidenced by how quickly she tore open the carrier case) so I’m trying hard not to let my familiarity affect my review.
One unique aspect of this beer is that it comes in a can. I got over my bias to beer in a can a long time ago, and agree with 21st Amendment on their reasons for doing so (better for the environment, fresher beer, easier to take with you). The result is one of the purest and well-balanced floral hop beers you can find.
It pours a thick foamy head, with a golden cloudy color. The aroma is incredibly hoppy – it literally punches you in the nose when you inhale. The first taste is super floral and complex. I feel like I taste several different hops every time I take a sip. It’s a bit malty and sweet through the middle and end, with just a subtle bitter note on the end. One of the reasons I love this beer so much is because you get one of the most intense hop flavors around, but without the expected bitterness. The 7.0% ABV will sneak up on you though, and since it’s so drinkable, it’s definitely done just that to me a few times.
Overall, these two beers are ideal for hop lovers. I don’t think Tuppers is available beyond the DC area, and 21st Amendment is limited but growing in distribution. Either way, do yourself a favor and pick them up if you see either.