Tuesday, December 02, 2008


I’m not sure HBJ’s ever been accused of being too “positive” in its reviews, but I’ve taken myself to task for excessive positivity at times – with the caveat that when you buy beer from renown brewers or that others are raving about, you’ll tend to drink some pretty excellent beer. This is not one of those excessively positive reviews. On the contrary – recently we’ve encountered two utterly foul India Pale Ales that we thought it made sense to steer you away from. After all, 5 bucks is 5 bucks (except when it’s 7 bucks), and if you could be drinking something delicious with that hard-earned coin rather than some gross mockery of an IPA, you’d damn well wanna thank the fella that helped you do so.

The first IPA to disappoint to so thoroughly is from HAIR OF THE DOG in Portland, Oregon. Now we’ve told you before that we think Hair of the Dog’s beers are sub-par, but after reading a few reviews of their BLUE DOT Double IPA I thought, “well – maybe these guys can at least do an IPA”. They are from the Northwest and all. Alas, HAIR OF THE DOG BLUE DOT is kind of a boozy mess. Its enormous head of foam just kept bubbling up for minutes after it was poured – maybe not their fault – but it took forever to dissipate; once it finally did & I could dig in, it was – ugh – way too bitter. Piney, biting hops, just totally raw and intense, with no citrus aroma or balance of any kind in sight. It’s like they just half-heartedly ground up a bunch of virgin hops and sprinkled them into the mash and said “good enough”, then pumped up the alcohol to eye-watering levels (though it’s only 7%, it totally tastes like 10%). Tastes like an amateur homebrewer’s idea of a Double IPA by the numbers. I’ll never trust Hair of The Dog again. 4/10.

There’s also this brewer in Marina, CA called ENGLISH ALES whose wares we’ve sampled before; they’re not bad. Their DRAGON SLAYER IPA, on the other hand, is. This has the exact opposite problem that BLUE DOT has; this IPA is clear, pale, yellow and very weak. It’s thin and watery with very low hopping, and its head was flat and lifeless. I saw a couple of bubbles struggling to the top, but that’s about it. The flavor is a mild, distant fruitiness that has to be strained at to even notice. Woe be to the beerpub crawler who spends his/her hard-earned cash on this gruel when a robust and hearty macro-micro is on tap next to it. Another 4/10 here.

For IPAs to truly reckon with & do brave battle with, try clicking here, here and here.


Anonymous said...

I think your tongue might be broken.

Anonymous said...

I agree. It's time for him to recalibrate his tounge

A Nug A Day said...

gotta back up this writer. im a beer maniac but work in the wine world (for the duckets) BUT this double ipa reminds me of the over-oaked, too much alcohol cali. wine thing o fthe late 90s and early 2000s. you dont have to seperate yourself from europe by going gross/out of control, just by going different. bigger aint always better... we got great ingredients, utilize them!

when i have had hair of the dog i thought it was gross. too much, no BALANCE.

the worst part is the new breweries who dont feel that they need to learn how to make a solid 5.5% pale ale before they just jump into the 8% spiced/herbed/"belgian-styled" beer.....

i just wanted to make my first comment to say that even though i dont always agree with you: YOUR TATSE BUDS ARE NOT BROKE!!!!!

i wont even get into the idea that some people are trying to make beer with all these "additives" and higher alcohol to try to manufacture an image of an elite industry where people should pay way too much for malt, hops, and water.

experimentation is good in art, but we get to critique it. in beer experimentation gets the "applause" too easy.

my question: are we unhappy with beer as we know it? (p.s. im a radical leftist so dont call me a conservative.)