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Sunday, December 30th 2012

13 Craft Cans to Look For in 2013

With 2012 coming to a close, its time to look ahead to 2013 and all the beers we have to look forward to. When it comes to canned craft beer, 2013 will certainly be a year in which we see more breweries, both new and established, putting their beers in cans. Already we know that there will be some big beers coming to cans next year and even one that's brewed with big balls. Whether you're a big fan of craft beer, a collector of craft beer cans, or both, there is certainly a lot to be excited about in the coming year. With that being said, here is our list of "13 Craft Cans to Look for in 2013!" Enjoy!


Brewery Vivant | Grand Rapids, Michigan

Brewery Vivant will be making some history when they can their Hubris Quadrupel Anniversary Ale. It will be the first of the style to be canned and at 11.5% it will be the strongest craft brew in a can to date. Hubris is made with "a copious amount of brown sugar" with "big caramel and brown sugar flavors swimming on top of one of Vivant's favorite Belgian yeast strains."

Wynkoop Brewing Company | Denver, Colorado

After a hoax that ended up becoming a real beer, Wynkoop will be brewing up more of their (in)famous Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout in 2013 - and this time they'll be putting it in hand-labeled cans as part of their "Even Smaller Batch Series". If you missed the story behind this beyond unique beer you can learn more HERE...and yes, this beer is made with real bull testicles.

Renegade Brewing Company | Denver, Colorado

Voted "2nd Best Beer in Colorado for 2011" by the readers of Denver Off the Wagon, Renegade's E3 Elevation Triple India Pale Ale clocks in at 11% and over 100 IBUs thanks to massive amounts of Summit hops. Thankfully this huge beer will come in a manageable 12 oz. can!

21st Amendment Brewery | San Francisco, California

Sporting another amazing design from the creative folks at Bend, Oregon's TBD Agency, 21st Amendment's Sneak Attack Saison will be giving your palate a break from all those porters and stouts this winter. The brewery's late-winter seasonal brew is a Belgian-style Farmhouse Ale that is "dry hopped with whole organic cardamom pods....and has an assertive spiciness. In your face, winter."

Ballast Point Brewing Company | San Diego, California

One of the nation's best IPA's, Ballast Point's Sculpin, is headed to cans in 2013 and we're very much looking forward to getting our hands on some of these hoppy fish. Ballast Point purchased a canning line earlier this month and also has plans to can their Longfin Lager and Pale Ale.

Sixpoint Brewing Company | Brooklyn, New York

"Made with Mast Brothers Chocolate cacao husks and infused with fresh Stumptown Coffee Roasters cold brew, and then aged on oak. Arriving late January in 12 oz sleek cans, and on draft....Its 2013, and the Mad Scientists have struck again." 3 Beans will be the brewery's second slim can release, which makes sense considering it weighs in at 10% alc., 77 IBUs, and filled to the brim with coffee and cocoa goodness.

Sun King Brewing Company | Indianapolis, Indiana

Get ready for more resealable 16 oz. Alumi-Tek® bottles from Sun King. The Indiana brewers that were one of the first to design a can that could be customized and filled with multiple style has also designed an aluminum bottle for their "King's Reserve" series. The first beer to fill those bottles will be their award-winning Belgian-style Quadruple known as The Velvet Fog

 Bale Breaker Brewing Company | Yakima, Washington

When it comes to hops, fresher is better. It doesn't get much fresher than this. Bale Breaker Brewing is located in the middle of a family hop farm right in the middle of Washington's Yakima Valley. Look for cans of their Top Cutter IPA and Field 41 Pale Ale in the coming months. 

Tin Man Brewing Company | Evansville, Indiana 

3 Gear is one of four cans that will soon be coming down the line at the new Tin Man Brewing Company in Evansville. A big, roasty porter that will come in a pint can, 3 Gear should make all the malt lovers out there happy and provide another much needed porter option in a can.


Uncommon Brewers | Santa Cruz, California 

It was about a year ago that we did a Q & A with Alec Stefansky from Uncommon Brewers and he mentioned that they were looking to can their 14.5% "American Special Bitter" in "stubby" 8 oz. cans. Although it didn't happen in 2012 we're excited to see if little cans of this big brew hit shelves in 2013. 


Maui Brewing Company | Lahaina, Hawaii

Maui's Aloha B'ak'tun is the brewery's latest seasonal canned release. It's a "Belgian style Stout brewed with Big Island chocolate, locally-grown chipotle peppers and cinnamon. This delicious stout is currently available on draft at the Maui Brewing Co. brewpub and is being canned for distribution to retailers by mid-January."


Clipper City Brewing Company | Baltimore, Maryland

Clipper City plans to can several of their Heavy Seas beers in 2013. One that we're definitely excited about is their Loose Cannon IPA. A very solid, uber hoppy IPA that should be another great addition to the plethora of excellent IPAs now available in cans. Cans of Loose Cannong should hit shelves in the spring. Also, look for Davy Jones Lager, a summer seasonal, as well as their Imperial Oktoberfest in cans later in the year. 


SanTan Brewing Company | Chandler, Arizona

The one and only Sex Panther from SanTan. Designer Michal Mason did a great job turning the Sex Panther artwork into a great looking can design for this late winter seasonal. A double chocolate porter that's "brewed with Colonial Rosewood Cocoa and large amounts of Chocolate malt giving this beer a huge chocolaty flavor combined with hints of truffle and molasses. Summit hops are used to balance the sweetness and White Wheat is added to give Sex Panther a smooth, creamy head that lasts all night!" Cans will be released on January 7th!

Posted by Russ

Labels: Opinion

Thursday, December 20th 2012

Q & A with Tin Man Brewing Company

It was only last month that Evanville, Indiana's Tin Man Brewing Company opened its doors and things are now in full swing with beer flowing in the brewery's taproom and cans being filled in the very near future. We caught up with owner Nick Davidson to learn more about Tin Man and how a love of robots and beer came together so perfectly. Cheers Nick, we can't wait to try your beers!

(CC) What is the background behind Tin Man Brewing? 

(ND) Tin Man Brewing Company started from the combination of two of my favorite things, robots and beer. I had been a home brewer for over a decade. When I moved back to my hometown of Evansville, IN one of my first thoughts was, this town needs a production brewery again. See, Evansville at one time had quite a few breweries and was a real beer town. Sadly the last production brewery in Evansville, which produced Sterling Beer, closed in the late 90s and has since been raised.  When it came to naming my brewery I decided to name it after my childhood love of robots. We wanted the robot logo and name to have a retro feel to it that conjured up images of early robots from the 50s. That's where the name Tin Man came from.

tap handles at Tin Man's taproom (photo: Tin Man Brewing)

(CC) What made you decide to go with cans?

(ND) We decided to go with cans first and foremost because of our commitment to the environment.  Cans are infinitely recyclable and that meant a lot to us when it came to deciding on our packaging.  We also like cans because they keep two of the enemies of beer out, light and oxygen.

(CC) Which of your beers will you be canning?

(ND) We will be canning 4 of our 5 beers to start. Circuit Bohemian Pilsner, Rivet Irish Red, Alloy American IPA, and 3 Gear Robust Porter.  We won't be canning our Dry Cell Irish Dry Stout, because that beer is meant to be nitrogenated and we have yet to find a solution for canning it that way.

(CC) Where will your beers be available?

(ND) Our beers will be available in liquor stores, grocery stores, and in bars around Evansville to start.  The nice thing about Evansville is that it is so close to so many big cities, so we plan to expand past Evansville as quickly as we can.

(CC) What makes Tin Man Brewing unique?

(ND)There are many things that make Tin Man Brewing Company unique.  We are the third brewery in the world to use the draft system we are using.  We are also one of the first craft breweries to use a mash filter in our brewing process. We are not afraid to try new technologies in order to advance the craft brewing industry.


the taproom at Tin Man Brewing (photo: Tin Man Brewing)

(CC) We love the designs on your cans. Who is responsible for them?

(ND) There are a couple of designers responsible for the design of our cans, Matt Wagner and Aaron Tanner.  They've done such a great job and we're very proud of our cans.

(CC) What is something people might not know about Tin Man Brewing Company, but should?

(ND) The Coinverter series is our first line of beers.  They are session beers created to give great flavor and aroma, but designed specifically to engage everyone and convert them into one of us.  They range from 4.5% to 6% alcohol, are moderately hopped, and are great representations of their styles.

Tin Man Brewing Company in Evansville, Indiana (photo: Tin Man Brewing)


You can read more about Tin Man Brewing Company in this article by Kirby Bennett, which was featured on CraftBeer.Com


Posted by Russ

Wednesday, December 19th 2012

Phantom Punch Winter Stout
(Baxter Brewing Company)

Baxter's recent winter release pays homage to a big event which took place in their hometown of Lewiston, Maine. The can tells the story and the design, by artist Josh Fisher, is an outstanding example of what you can do with a cylindrical canvas. 

From the Baxter Brewing site:

"Baxter has named its winter stout in celebration of Lewiston’s 1965 Ali/Liston heavyweight championship. “Phantom Punch” is a Foreign Extra Stout with a hearty 6.8% ABV; enough to warm up winter gatherings, but not too much to prevent sipping a few by the fire. Its deep black hue and rich tan head compliment the full, but not overly-heavy body. Roasted and toasted malts dominate the flavor, with hints of caramel and strong notes of chocolate.


Meanwhile, roasted organic cocoa nibs reinforce the malty chocolate flavors, while real vanilla beans suggest a touch of sweetness without weighing down the brew. Lastly, Phantom Punch has just enough British hops to balance the stout’s maltiness, but this is Baxter’s least hoppy beer to-date."

Here we go...


Pour - darks as a winter's night in Maine. There are some shades of brown and red when held to the light. A big coffee colored head sits on top. 

Aroma - if you like big roasted malt aromas than this will make your nose happy. Strong dark roast coffee, bitter chocolate, cocoa and vanilla all intermingle quite nicely. 

Taste - one sip brings a flood of roasty/toadty malt flavor into my mouth. The bitter chocolate and coffee flavors hit the tip of the tongue right away and the sweetness from the malt combines with some of the cocoa and vanilla to round things out. It has a dry bitter roasted malt finish and just a hint of citrus from the hops. Love all the rich roasted malt flavors and just how smooth this is going down. It would be great to try this on nitro sometime. 


Overall - a very well-assembled stout that should make the stout and malt crowd quite happy this winter. It brings about pleasant memories of Dieu du Ciel's Aphrodite, with its cocoa and vanilla flavors and aromas. I'll definitely be enjoying more than a few of these during the long New England winter ahead.


Note - Lewiston is the smallest city to host a heavyweight title bout since Jack Dempsey fought Tom Gibbons in Shelby, Montana (population 3,000) in 1923. It remains the only heavyweight title fight held in the state of Maine.

The second Ali-Liston fight was embraced by The Pine Tree State. Maine Governor John H. Reed announced to the press, "This fight is one of the greatest things to happen in Maine. Nevertheless, it would go down in history as a debacle.

Due to the remote location (140 miles north of Boston), only 2,434 fans were present (the arena seated less than 3,700), setting the all-time record for the lowest attendance for a heavyweight championship fight. The fight also ranks as one of the shortest heavyweight title bouts in history as Liston was knocked out before the end of the first round. Many in the small crowd had not even settled in their seats when the fight was stopped. - Wikipedia


Phantom Punch Winter Stout
Style: Foreign/Export Stout
Brewery: Baxter Brewing Company
Lewiston, Maine  
United States  
Container: 12 oz. can
Malts: ???
Hops: ???
ABV: 6.8%
IBUs: ???
Date: December 19th, 2012

Posted by Russ

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Tuesday, December 18th 2012

Marooned on Hog Island
(21st Amendment Brewery)

21st Amendment 's latest release is another great example of both their abilities as brewers but also the creativity of the folks that design their cans. The first oyster stout in a can, Marooned on Hog Island is collaboration brew between 21st Amendment and Hog Island Oyster Company. 

From the 21st Amendment site:

"When life gives you oysters, be sure to brew some killer oyster stout. That’s exactly what Nico Freccia and Shaun O’Sullivan, co-founders of 21st Amendment Brewery did. In a food+beer collaboration with Hog Island Oyster Company co-founders, John Finger and Terry Sawyer, the 21st Amendment Brewery team has created Marooned on Hog Island, the latest beer in their Insurrection Series, a limited edition, once-in-awhile four-pack release of a very special beer that rises up in revolt against common notions of what canned beer can be. Marooned on Hog Island has an ABV of 7.9% and was brewed using Magnum and Willamette hops with an ale yeast, a variety of malts including Pale, Crystal, Chocolate and Carafa, Rolled Oats, White Wheat and the kicker: 450 pounds of Hog Island Sweetwater oyster shells."

Here we go...


Pour - dark brown to black in appearance with a great looking off-white fluffy head. Looks rich, strong, and delicious...it also looks like the head on this isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

Aroma - lots of big rich roasty malt notes, some sweet cocoa and dark chocolote, espresso, along with some very subtle hints of citrus. If you like your beers dark than you'll love the aromas this beer has to offer.

Taste - rich, roasty with big flavors of dark roast coffee and a dry bitter finish. The first sip did not bring about flavors of bottom-feeding mollusks if that is what you're wondering. Since this beer is brewed with the shells of the oysters, which are made up of predominately of calcium carbonate and did come from the salty sea, they do impart some bitterness and a perhaps a tad bit of brineyness in the finish. Some breweries do in fact brew their oyster stouts with whole oysters, including the prized meat inside the shells. This one does not. However, it does have a lot of great flavor coming from all that dark roasted malt. A perfect brew for a cold rainy/snowy night.


Overall - a great partnership between the brewery and a local oyster company. We love to see that sort of thing as it provides people the opportunity to try something new while promoting another business. If you've not had an Oyster Stout this is certainly a good one to check out. A great take on a style that has had some resurgence in recent years.

Note - if you're interested in learning more about Oyster Stouts and the rather unique history behind this interesting style we suggest reading beer writer Stephen Beaumont's "An Oyster in Your Beer, Sir" or  Oyster Stout is a Pearl of an Idea by Lessley Anderson. Both have much to offer on the style's history.


Marooned on Hog Island
Style: Oyster Stout
Brewery: 21st Amendment Brewery
San Francisco, California  
United States  
Container: 12 oz. can
Malts: Pale, Crystal, Chocolate and Carafa, Rolled Oats, White Wheat
Hops: Magnum and Willamette
ABV: 7.9%
IBUs: ???
Date: December 18th, 2012

Posted by Russ

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Labels: Stouts

Sunday, December 16th 2012

Abominable Winter Ale
(Hopworks Urban Brewery)

It really is amazing how craft beer can design just keeps on getting more and fun and exciting. HUB's newest canned release, as well as their first seasonal can, features a hard to resist illustration of "Mr. Yeti" by Portland artist Martin Ontiveros. For years this brew has been available on draft and in 22 oz. bottles, also with incredible artwork by Ontiveros, and now for the first time its available in cans. If you see some, get some. Did we mention that this, and every other beer that Hopworks brews, is totally organic? Just a side note. Also, we just found out that HUB barrel-ages some of this and pours it under the name "Kentucky Christmas". That is surely incredible...

From the Hopworks Urban Brewery site:

"This mythological beer emerges from the depths of our brewery every winter. Made with Cascade, Centennial and Chinook hops and six organic malts. “A-Bomb” has a complex floral, spicy and citrus hoppiness backed up by just the right amount of malt sweetness.

Don’t turn your back on the BEAST!"

Here we go...

Pour - dark auburn in color with a big beastly, snow-white head on top. Loads of sticky lacing inside the glass. 

Aroma - citrusy, piny, grassy, molasses-y. Very nice aromas of sweet oranges and caramel. Very balanced between hop aroma and malt aroma. 

Taste - the first taste reminds me of grapefruit with some sugar on top. Its both puckering and citrusy but with a sweetness. Each additional sip brings about similar sweet citrus flavors from the hops and malts working together. There is certainly a good deal of pineyness here as well. Each sip is completed with a not-too-dry and not-too-bitter finish. Nice lingering hop flavors and malty sweetness sticking to the tongue. This isn't too heavy but certainly has some bigger flavors. 


Overall - this beast has some bite but has an overall balanced temperement. Great hop flavors and aromas and a winter brew that doesn't taste like someting you'd rather eat than drink. This should appeal to the hopheads as well as the maltheads. Its big but not too scary. This is the type of monster that you're happy comes along with a few of his friends.


Note - you can check out more of Martin Ontiveros' artwork over on his website MartinHead.Com


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Abominable Winter Ale
Style: American Strong Ale
Brewery: Hopworks Urban Brewery
Portland, Oregon  
United States  
Container: 16 oz. can
Malts: ???
Hops: Cascade, Centennial and Chinook
ABV: 7.3%
IBUs: 70
Date: December 16th, 2012

Posted by Russ

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Thursday, December 13th 2012

Cant Dog Imperial Pale Ale
(Marshall Wharf Brewing Company)

We've been hearing about cans from Marshall Wharf for awhile and were pretty excited to finally pick some up on a recent trip up to Maine. If you're not familiar with Marshall Wharf Brewing Company that's completely understandable. Outside of New England, or perhaps outside of Maine, they are relatively unheard of as the brewery is fairly small and distribution is pretty limited. In fact, the reverse of their cans reads, "We can and distribute one 200 gallon batch per week." So yeah, they are small...but damn do they make good beer.

From the Marshall Wharf site:

"This beer is the one beer that our brewers and I would take to that mythical deserted island if we could only bring one Marshall Wharf beer. Huge malt backbone matched with huge amounts of hops."

Pour - dark golden with hints of reddish orange, nice deep colors with a substantial head on top. At close to 10% this definitely has some legs and pours rather viscous.

Aroma - BIG aromas of pineapple and mango. Love those tropical notes brought on by ridiculous amounts of hops. This is an extremely fragrant brew with loads of floral aromas and sweetness from the malt backbone. Wow, this is one of those beers that you get pleasure from just from burying your nose in the glass.

Taste - all those big fruity, tropical aromas translate into some amazing palate pleasing flavors that combine with a big malt backbone. Defintiely some sweetness to this beer but not cloying or syrupy whatsoever. The bitterness is pretty much held in check and a lot of the flavors are coming straight from the hops - and they are pretty tasty. 


Overall - excellent. I feel pretty satisfied with finally being able to enjoy a pint of Cant Dog in the comfort of my own home. Its great to see the amazing beers of this small, mid-coast brewery are now packed in a portable package that will definitely introduce quite a few new fans to this pretty special little brewery. 


Note - Marshall Wharf is currently only canning their Cant Dog Imperial Pale Ale. The cans were designed in a way that will allow the brewery to place a clear adhesive denoting whichever beer they happen to put inside. If you're in Maine be sure to hunt these down, have a pint of their beer on tap, or if you have the time head up the coast and visit their brewpub in beautiful Belfast. 



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Cant Dog Imperial Pale Ale
Style: Double/Imperial India Pale Ale
Brewery: Marshall Wharf Brewing Company
Belfast, Maine  
United States  
Container: 16 oz. can
Malts: ???
Hops: ???
ABV: 9.7%
IBUs: ???
Date: December 13th, 2012

Posted by Russ

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Wednesday, December 12th 2012

Toke Some Malt & Burn That Bush:
A Tale of Two Smoked IPAs

Who would have thought that the mighty, mighty IPA was so versatile? Lining the shelves at the local beer store these days are English IPAs, American IPAs, Belgian IPAs, White IPAs, Black IPAs, Session IPAs, Imperial IPAs, Triple IPAs, and even Coffee IPAs. So where can we go from here with one of America's favorite craft beer styles? How about a Smoked IPA? Hey, why not? Recently two versions of this new, and yet to be recognized, style caught our attention here at CraftCans.Com and yep, they're both in cans.

The first was Golden Road's Burning Bush Smoked IPA, this was the brewery's second offering in their "Custom IPA" series - and previously brewed for the brewery's opening celebration last year. The first thing that strikes you is the imagery on the can, its a picture of the 2007 Griffith Park wildfires and is one of the more vivid can designs we've seen to date. This is the brewery's fall seasonal and fall is wildfire season is southern California. 

According to their website:

"Brewmaster Jon Carpenter had a vision so absurd in scope that it took his brew team tasting the finished Burning Bush to believe that his revelation was divine. The first known Rauch IPA to our knowledge, Burning Bush uses the smoked malt characterized by a traditional German style Rauchbier with the hops of a west coast IPA. This deep copper colored ale has a light smoky aroma that sits atop a generous floral and piney hopping. At 8%, it’s difficult to taste the alcohol in this smooth-drinking IPA. With its wispy smoke character, Burning Bush is also an incredible complement to grilled foods."

The description they give of Burning Bush is pretty much spot on. Not only was the alcohol buried deeply in the complexity of this very smooth and very balanced beer, but the smokiness and the hoppiness were both very present with neither being overpowering. Big citrus and piney flavors are present, it is afterall clocking in at 70 IBUs, and yet so was a very good amount of woodsy smokiness. I've got to admit that this one was one the first true "holy sh*t" beer experiences I've had in a while. The flavor combination here was so unique and after drinking so many beers that fit into defined categories I think my taste buds were pretty shaken up with excitement. This is definitely a beer that I'm going to miss now that my last can has been thoroughly emptied and enjoyed. 

The second Smoked IPA that has come around recently was the aptly named oSKAr the G'Rauch. This was a "CANlaboration" brew that paired Oskar Blues and Ska Brewing together. The two Colorado breweries have become synonymous with canned craft beer over the years and oSKAr the G'Rauch is the product of a joint celebration of ten years of canning. What a name and what a beer! You've also got to love the label they put together that is equal parts Ska and equal parts Oskar Blues - right down to the skull-faced monkey riding a bike and the stars and the black and white Ska checkered background. Oh yeah, before I forget, they also released this beer at the brewery in both 16 oz. and their new 19.2 oz. "royal pint" cans.

From the folks at Oskar Blues:

"What did oSKAr the G’Rauch say to the face? Slap! Aromas of freshly-peeled orange and apricots with a touch of……..smoke? Juicy citrus and fruit flavors dominate but don’t overpower the slightly sweet malt structure. Finish is all citrus rind ping-ponging with some smoky phenols. 8.5% ABV. MANY IBU."

The first thing that caught my attention, after staring at the label art on this one, was the use of El Dorado hops. This is a rather new hop, having just been released in the fall of 2010. As far as hop profiles go, its used as both an aroma and bittering hop and packs some big fruit flavors that might differ a bit from the usual citrus. Think pears, mangos, pineapples, and even watermelon. Now combine a ton of that with some super mellow and delicious smoked malt.

The liquid inside this can is, much like Burning Bush, altogether unique, fun, exciting, and different...and it works surprisingly well. Along with the very well defined smokiness, oSKAr the G'Rauch had a juicy sweet malt background, and a palate tingling and tongue numbing hoppiness too it. This is a bigger beer with some very big flavors, but they all play together nicely. No bullying in this brew. Cheers to both Oskar Blues and Ska Brewing on ten years of canning their beers!

Perhaps these two breweries are on to something. Are Smoked IPAs going to catch on with other breweries throughout the country? Perhaps. Who really knows how the craft brewing world will respond. Most breweries are constantly looking for the next big thing, whether they're coming up with it themselves or trying a style with which another brewery has had success. Regardless of what happens, its always great to see breweries doing new things - and even better when those new things also taste great. Cheers!

Posted by Russ

Labels: Smoked IPAs

Wednesday, December 12th 2012

oSKAr the GRauch Smoked IPA
(Oskar Blues and Ska Brewing)

How do two of Colorado's most well-respected breweries both celebrate ten years of canning their beer? Brew an amazing beer together, can it, and then throw a big party! That's what Oskar Blues and Ska Brewing did a few weeks back. The beer they brewed, which was aptly named oSKAr the G'Rauch, is a big, hoppy, smoked IPA and was packaged in both 16 and 19.2 oz. cans. Check out the label art, who doesn't love a skeleton-faced monkey riding a bike? Happy CANniversary!

From Oskar Blues:

"What did oSKAr the G’Rauch say to the face? Slap! Aromas of freshly-peeled orange and apricots with a touch of……..smoke? Juicy citrus and fruit flavors dominate but don’t overpower the slightly sweet malt structure. Finish is all citrus rind ping-ponging with some smoky phenols. 8.5% ABV. MANY IBU."

Here we go...

Pour – deep golden in color with a very clean appearance and a big, thick, fluffy white head that sits gloriously on top. This looks very, very good.

Aroma – plenty of smokiness hitting the nose right away with some sweet smelling tropical fruit aroma in the background. Love that smokey aroma, wow. This smells pretty much what you might expect a smoked IPA to smell like. Sort of like someone took a bag of fresh hops and threw them in a smokehouse for awhile. The hop aroma is there but it is certainly tinged by the smokiness from the malt.

Taste – wow. Really. This is an impressive beer. The smokiness is not overpowering on the palate but it also sitting idly by while the hops take over. Nope, this is definitely telling you that there is plenty of smoked malt in there to balance out the El Dorado hops that are also assualting the sense with big sweet orange and pineapple flavors. Somehow it all comes together nicely and the tastebuds are rejoicing after each sip and continue to do so as the smokiness and the hoppiness linger happily side by side.

Overall - very impressive beer. One can only imagine that with a beer like this it would be easy to have things go wrong. A little too much smoked malt and this turns into something completely different. Too many hops and this becomes too bitter and unbalanced. We're glad to see two of our favorite breweries come together after so many years and brew something so original...and so delicious. CANgrats!

Note - Smoked IPAs are a relatively new, and still unrecognized, "style". Very few have been done at a production level. One of the only others we know of was Golden Road Brewing Company's Burning Bush Smoked IPA, which was the second release in their Custom IPA series. Perhaps we'll see more of them, who knows. We sure hope so!

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oSKAr the G'Rauch
Style: American IPA
Brewery: Oskar Blues Brewery
Longmont, Colorado  
United States  
Container: 16 oz. can
Malts: ???
Hops: El Dorado
ABV: 8.5%
IBUs: ???
Date: December 12th, 2012

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Tuesday, December 11th 2012

Burning Bush Smoked IPA
(Golden Road Brewing)

Wow, a "Smoked IPA"! Definitely a first in my book and perhaps the first version of this "style" that I've ever seen. As much as I'm leaning towards being a bit apprehensive, I'm also quite excited to try something that sounds so unique and new. Burning Bush is Golden Road's second release in their "Custom IPA" series. This was also their fall "seasonal" which ties in with the name of the beer and the can design. It was first released as a draught-only offering during the breweries opening celebration last year. Yeah, hard to believe that they've only been brewing for just over a year.

From the Golden Road site:

"Brewmaster Jon Carpenter had a vision so absurd in scope that it took his brew team tasting the finished Burning Bush to believe that his revelation was divine. The first known Rauch IPA to our knowledge, Burning Bush uses the smoked malt characterized by a traditional German style Rauchbier with the hops of an west coast IPA. This deep copper colored ale has a light smoky aroma that sits atop a generous floral and piney hopping. At 8%, it’s difficult to taste the alcohol in this smooth-drinking IPA. With its wispy smoke character, Burning Bush is also an incredible complement to grilled foods."

Here we go...

Pour – golden peachy in appreaance with a nice clean and clear hue as well as a half inch or so of white head. Leaves some nice lacing as it fades.

Aroma - stick a nose in a glass of Burning Bush and you'll be left picking out aromas for awhile. The first thing that hits the senses is a combination of sweet citrus and a campfire. The smokiness is there but not overly assertive in the aroma. It's amazing how much piney hoppy aroma this is packing but never without that smokiness coming into play in the background. As a fan of both rauchbiers and big hoppy IPAs this is really a treat to take in.

Taste – one sip and you know you've gotten the best of both worlds. My palate instantly starts picking out the smokey malt flavors that swirl around inside my mouth and begin to dry out my tongue while at the same time there is a barrage of big citrusy and piney hop flavors. This is all backed up by a good deal of regular malt sweetness as this is weighing in at 8% - but you'd never know it from the way it tastes. I love the flavor combination here. The hops are big and bold and the smokiness is at a level where its not overpowering but very, very present. This is delicious and unique and my tastebuds aren't all that sure what is going on - but they do know they're quite happy to try something so new and exciting!

Overall – holy sh*t! This is a beer like none other that I've had in quite some time. At a time when most beers are placed in specific categories it really is nice to try something that is both unique and ridiculously good. It should be interesting to see if other breweries try something similar as this is one of the best new beers I've had in a long time.

Notes - the design on the can, and everyone of Golden Road's cans, is from a picture taken by a local photographer. The Burning Bush can features an image of the Griffith Park (a large municipal park in Los Angeles) wildfires that took place in 2007. It is certainly a striking image for a can of beer and really shows how far we've come with the art and design of today's cans. 

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Burning Bush
Style: American IPA
Brewery: Golden Road Brewing
Los Angeles, California  
United States  
Container: 16 oz. can
Malts: 2-Row, Victory, German Rauch, Munich 120L
Hops: German, Northwest, & New Zealand Varieties
ABV: 8.0%
IBUs: 70
Date: December 11th, 2012

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Tuesday, December 11th 2012

Ska's Hibernal Vinifera Stout
To Be Released on December 21st

Ska Brewing Announces Hibernal Vinifera Stout:
2nd Seasonal Stout Release

DURANGO, Colorado — Ska Brewing is announcing the second release in its Seasonal Stout series: Hibernal Vinifera Stout, an oak-aged foreign-style stout brewed with Malbec grapes. The beer—in keeping with the series’ solstice and equinox release dates—will be released on the winter solstice, December 21st.

“Winter weather causes most of us to start craving heartier food, and beer is no exception. This beer is 8% Alcohol By Volume (ABV), and the Malbec grapes and oak aging will complement that with a richness and depth that are perfect for the winter season,” said Ska Brewing Overlord of Brewing Operations Bill Graham. “This will be a great beer to have during the cold, short days ahead.”

The packaging for the Hibernal Vinifera Stout, pictured below, features a black, 12-oz. can, with Ska’s True Blonde character as the Sumerian goddess of grapes and the cold season, Ngeshtin-ana. As with all four of the stouts in the Seasonal Stout series, the beer will be released in cans, and distributed in all of Ska’s markets.

According to Ska President and Co-founder Dave Thibodeau, Ska will complete the Seasonal Stout series with two more new, canned seasonal stouts in March and June of 2013. “The Hibernal Vinifera Stout follows on the heels of our Mayan-themed stout, and assuming the 12/21/12 calamity-howlers are wrong, we’ll all live to see its release. Come to think of it, we probably ought to name a beer ‘calamity-howler,’ in honor of all the crazy predictions that don’t come true.”

About Ska Brewing

Based in Durango, Colorado, Ska Brewing was founded in 1995 and now produces over a dozen medal-winning beers including the Pinstripe Red Ale, True Blonde Ale and Steel Toe Stout. Four Ska beers are now widely available in cans: ESB Special Ale, True Blonde, Modus Hoperandi IPA and the winter seasonal Euphoria Pale Ale. For information, music and a good time, visit www.SkaBrewing.com. Chat us up and get the latest news at Facebook.com/skabrew and Twitter.com/skabrewing.   and .

Ska Brewing's Seasonal Stout Releases Thus Far...

Posted by Russ

Tuesday, December 11th 2012

SoCal's Hangar 24 Craft Brewery Cans Hitting Shelves Next Week

REDLANDS, CALIF. – Hangar 24 Craft Brewery, one of the top 100 craft brewers in the country, has become the first Southern California craft brewery to both can and bottle beer with the release of 12-ounce cans of Helles Lager and Orange Wheat. Hangar 24’s new line of 12-ounce cans are currently available in its tasting room and will distribute to on and off-premise locations in California starting on Dec. 17. The craft brewer is also completing its latest facility expansion to increase production and renovate its tasting room, among other enhancements.

“Aluminum cans will never replace our bottles, but we wanted to give our fans a new way to enjoy Hangar 24,” said Hangar 24 Owner and Master Brewer Ben Cook. “Our new line of aluminum cans gives everyone the option to enjoy Hangar 24 in places where glass is not ideal.”

Along with the portability and durability that aluminum cans provide aluminum is also environmentally friendly and protects the beer from light and oxygen, both of which can alter a beer’s flavor.

In addition to adding aluminum cans to its lineup, Hangar 24 is simultaneously completing the latest expansion to its brewing facility in Redlands, CA. This expansion increases the annual brewing capacity to 35,000 barrels enabling the California craft brewery to keep up with the strong demand.

“The additional improvements that we made at the brewery will allow us to increase our production to meet the higher demand for years to come and to offer all of our fans an improved tasting room experience,” said Cook.

Hangar 24’s expanded brewing facility includes three new fermenting tanks, as well as a truck loading dock, space for a new bottling line to be installed next summer, a lab for testing new recipes and renovated office space. Hangar 24 will also move the current cold box to the new space to accommodate the 500 sq. ft. tasting room expansion and remodel, which will create more room for beer sampling and growler fills.

Hangar 24 is available throughout Southern California and its famed Central Coast. For a full list of on- and off-premise locations carrying Hangar 24 craft beer, please visit Hangar 24 Brewery

About Hangar 24

Hangar 24 Craft Brewery began with a true passion for good beer, the absolute love of flying and the pure enjoyment of being around great friends. Owner and master Brewer Ben Cook and his buddies used to meet at Hangar 24 after an afternoon of flying to trade stories, talk aviation, play music and share a few cold ones that Ben just finished brewing at home. These days, the location where these fine beers are brewed has changed, but the quality time spent enjoying a delicious, handcrafted beer and conversation is the same as ever. Hangar 24 Craft Brewery employs more than 50 team members and its distribution is now spanned throughout Southern California with its addition of another company, Hangar 24 Craft Distribution. Its annual capacity now stands at approximately 35,000 and its Brewery and Distribution Center together employ nearly 100 people.

Posted by Russ