The Target: Mikkeller’s Hoppy Lovin’ Christmas

Brewed by: Mikkeller (brewed at De Proefbrouwerij)
Copenhagen, Denmark
Style: American Double/Imperial IPA
ABV: 7.8 %

Commercial description: India Pale Ale brewed with Ginger and Pine Needles.

APPEARANCE (5/5)

Pours a light amber/honey that is fairly cloudy. A massive three-finger off-white foamy head with great retention and a crazy amount of sticky lacing. There is a dense rocky island in the middle of my snifter.

AROMA (10/10)

Relatively mild, floral hop aroma, particularly for this style. Malty notes of caramel, sweet toffee, and bready crusts help balance a zippy hop profile comprised of light pine, grapefruit rind, and slight tropical fruitiness. A whiff or ginger and alcohol at the end.

FLAVOR (18/20)

Follows the nose a great deal. Oily, piney hops are assertive and bitter, but there are some sweet fruity notes coming through, with green apple, orange, and grapefruit being detected. More malt balance than the average hop bomb, with sweet caramel malt, toffee, light nutty notes, and some toasty flavors too. Bitter like a DIPA but balanced like an APA. As it warms the pine is very strong in the aftertaste but is tempered a bit by the sweetness. It has an interesting transition from bitter to sweet to bitter again. Not as much ginger as in the nose, just a hint in the aftertaste.

MOUTHFEEL (4/5)

Nice carbonation, with a smooth feel to it. Light to medium bodied, and not too thick or hot like some DIPAs tend to be. A nice, easy drinking mouthfeel that compliments the balanced profile really well.

OVERALL IMPRESSION (9/10)

Overall this is a well-hopped IPA that offers up the subtle hints you’d expect from the name. The holidays portrayed with a gingerbread cookie-like sweetness and hints of pine. An aggressively hopped DIPA with some nice complexities but it doesn’t ruin you as some of the genre do

FINAL SCORE  (46/50)

 

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The Target: The Bruery’s 5 Golden Rings

Brewed by: The Bruery
Placentia, California USA
Style: Belgian Golden Strong Ale
ABV: 11.5 %

Commercial description: 5 Golden Rings is the 5th verse in our ’12 Days of Christmas’ winter seasonal ale series. This is the only golden ale in the bunch but it definitely packs a holiday punch. We spiced up this 11.5% ABV ode to winter with cinnamon, allspice and ginger along with some delicious sweet and tangy pineapple.

APPEARANCE (4/5)

Pours a slightly hazy marmalade color with peachy highlights with a finger’s worth of ivory head that didn’t persist. A minimal amount of patchy islands of lace are left behind as I drink.

AROMA (10/10)

In the aroma I’m getting a slighly tart and funky Belgian yeast notes, along with some winter spiciness… allspice, cinnamon and ginger. Waves of pineapple, lemon, grapefruit, and a little boozy sweetness are also noticeable. As the pour warms a bit I’m getting more and more of the ginger.

FLAVOR (17/20)
No surprises here. Much like the nose, I get some tart yeast notes, along with huge lush pineapples. A sweet and sour thing going on here. Finishes with the slight warmth of booze and spices. Allspice, cinnamon and ginger as noted on the nose. I like the use of spices here; however the whole taste profile seems a bit disjointed. Maybe time would help balance it out.

MOUTHFEEL (3/5)

A slightly thick and syrupy body with moderate carbonation which had a sweet, mild fruity, spice, herbal, slightly grainy and crisp/slightly dry finish.

OVERALL IMPRESSION (8/10)

Not bad, but it seems like this beer has a lot of potential to improve. It’s a bit too sweet and the flavors don’t mesh well. The alcohol is spicy, but not quite hot and the malt is just a bit too thick for my taste. I would take a chance in buying it and laying it down for a while. Age this one for sure.

FINAL SCORE (42/50)

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The Target: Hoppin’ Frog Frosted Frog

Brewed by: Hoppin’ Frog Brewery
Akron, Ohio USA
Style: Christmas/Winter Specialty Spiced Beer
ABV: 8.6 %

Commercial description: The essence of Christmas is captured in this very bottle you are holding. Perfectly blended spices compliment Frosted Frog’s rich malt flavors, creating the ultimate Christmas experience. Celebrate the holidays as you savor this very special seasonal offering.

APPEARANCE (4/5)

Pours opaque brown with some amber highlights. Minimal head and decent retention and lacing.

AROMA (8/10)

Aroma is beautifully festive. Now the first whiff…man, they weren’t kidding about the spices. Strong cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger in the nose. A bit of bready malt in there too.

FLAVOR (17/20)

Taste was similar to the aromatics, though not as intense. The ginger is more dominant than the cinnamon that was so strong in the aromatics. The combination of the two gives this beer a decent balance. You’ll either love or hate this because it’s heavy on the spice. It starts out with some apple-cider sweetness and cinnamon, then a nice amount of malt supports a takes over and lets the graham cracker and other spices take over.

MOUTHFEEL (5/5)

Drinkable and medium body that is nice and smooth. Carbonation is dialed down to just the right level. It’s not quite thick enough to be creamy, but that’s not a big knock on it. It has a nice feel. This is tasty stuff that’s deceptively strong.

OVERALL IMPRESSION (7/10)

Very drinkable and solid winter warmer. At times the spices got a little over whelming which results in a bit of palate fatigue. Not something I would generally drink in mass quantities but a great holiday brew that really delivers the Christmas spirit.

FINAL SCORE (41/50)

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The Target: Pipeworks Blood of the Unicorn

Brewed by: Pipeworks Brewing Company
Chicago, Illinois USA
Style: American Amber / Red Ale
ABV: 8.5 %

Commercial description: In this epic battle, the Blood of the Unicorn has been shed by the sword of the deadly assassin of the east. One sip of this aggressively hopped red ale clearly reveals what drives these, the greatest of, hop heads of lore. Is this the end of the mythical horned horse? Or will he rise like the phoenix to fight another day?

APPEARANCE (5/5)

Pours a dark, murky ruby red with some brown hues mixed in. A thick, light khaki head forms on the pour and sticks around for quite some time. It recedes very slowly to a thick cap and collar that leaves some sticky sheets of lace behind..

AROMA (9/10)

Lots of dank, herbal hops up front on the first whiff along with some spicy black pepper and earthly peat. Generous dried biscuit malts, some sweet caramel and berry fruitiness on the finish.

FLAVOR (18/20)

Follows the nose with loads of herbal hops, nice fruity flesh and citrus grapefruit are up front, but it gets really down and dirty with some earthy peat and subtle pine. The malt bill comes on strong at the finish with some nice caramel notes, dark spiced bread and a slight toasted bitterness. Finish has lingering bitterness with dank hops and spicy black pepper.

MOUTHFEEL (5/5)

Medium bodied with a slight bit of oily slickness. The finish is sweet and creamy with a nice medium carbonation level. Semi-dry finish with a hint of booziness detected but is generally well-hidden.

OVERALL IMPRESSION (9/10)

These guys are definitely on my beer radar. A really nice Imperial Red. Drinks like a Brewdog 5 AM Saint on steroids. Although on first sniff this beer seems like it’s going to be massively dry and hop-centered, the malt profile was ample enough to level things out and make a wonderfully balanced imperial red. Another wonderful offering by Pipeworks!

FINAL SCORE  (46/50)

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The Target: Evil Twin Disco Beer

Brewed by: Evil Twin Brewing
(Brewed at Brouwerij de Molen)
Copenhagen / Brooklyn, Denmark
Style:Imperial/Double IPA
ABV: 10.5 %

Commercial description: Disco Beer is a vinous IPA thoughtfully blended with 10 % Chardonnay white wine. This Champagne of beer is a real party starter, no more shy beer geek. Drink it and you will own the dance floor.

APPEARANCE (5/5)

Poured a deep dark amber orange with a fluffy three-finger white head. Subsided to a compact and loose head slowly. Maintained nice lacing throughout the glass.

AROMA (10/10)

Nose is of floral and herbal hops. Lots and lots of sweet citrus–lemon, orange, pineapple, and grapefruit. It has a candy-like aroma. The wine comes through with a kiss of alcohol with a lightly sweet caramel and nutty malt backbone. Smells absolutely great!

FLAVOR (18/20)

Taste is similar to the aroma, but there’s also some herbal flavors and peppery spice noticeable. Piney hops, sweet grapefruit, bready malts and strong oak notes. Some hints of apple, grapes, vanilla, and spice in the background. Slightly grainy backbone tries to poke out and balances it very nicely; never letting the hop character overtake it. Lightly bitter finish but it remains very smooth and robust.

MOUTHFEEL (4/5)

Average carbonation, an appropriate amount of dryness on the palate, some stickiness, rather light-bodied for the style. Extremely smooth, but with a slight tingling from the alcohol, and a tiny burn on the lips, but it faded away nicely as it warmed up.

OVERALL IMPRESSION (8/10)

Adding actual chardonnay to the blend gives it a completely interested and different character. The wine truly does make itself present and obvious, and the IPA is formulated in a way to allow this to happen. I enjoyed this beer immensely. It does not fall in line with what I tend to look for in a DIPA, but an interesting journey off the beaten path.

FINAL SCORE  (45/50)

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The Target: Boulevard Double Wide I.P.A.

Brewed by: Boulevard Brewing Company
Kansas City, Missouri USA
Style:Imperial/Double IPA
ABV: 8.5 %

Commercial description: The classic India Pale Ale is a traveler’s beer, aggressively hopped to withstand the long, hot ocean voyage to the British East Indies. Our Double-Wide I.P.A. also travels well, and is right at home in the most exotic ports of call of the Midwest. While this modern-day prairie schooner may not resemble a graceful sailing sloop, our liberal hopping regimen does make her virtually “twister-proof,” with toffee and caramel notes balancing out the lingering bitterness. Enjoy this beer fresh to best appreciate the complex blending of hop aromas, ranging from minty to citrusy, with subtle hints of pine.

APPEARANCE (5/5)

Pours a golden copper color with ruby red highlights. A huge, billowing and foamy egg-shell colored head. The lacing is spectacular and the retention is about the best one can expect: the one finger sized head lasts for the entire trip.

AROMA (10/10)

Nice big hop nose with a solid caramel malt backbone. Its a nice mixture of apricots and pine in the nose, although the pine seems the more dominant and noticeable and the duo. Slightly sweet form the malts with light tropical fruits.

FLAVOR (19/20)

Very well balanced. The sweet malt profile hits the palate up front followed by a rush of hops bliss. Predominantly piney hops, but there is also some nice grapefruit citric bitterness as well. A hint of lemon zest and bubblegum, even.The balance is obviously more favorable to the hops than the malts, but for the style it is dead center. The finish is piney, lasting and makes you want to go right back for more. Some hints of alcohol warmth creep in at the end, the only indication of the alcohol content.

MOUTHFEEL (5/5)

The body is medium with a nice pleasant carbonation. Feels a bit creamy. This beer is very dangerously drinkable.

OVERALL IMPRESSION (9/10)

A truly great beer. Hoppy then sweet then bitter at the end; one of the most solid and least agressive DIPA’s I’ve had.  Complex enough to hold my interest, but subtle enough to refrain from taxing the tastebuds. This probably qualifies as a hop bomb, but not to the extent of some tongue searing DIPAs and powerful IPAs. Damn fine beer. Kudos to Boulevard for making some really outstanding brew.

FINAL SCORE  (48/50)

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The Target: Stone Enjoy By 11-9-12

Brewed by: Stone Brewing Company
Escondido, California USA
Style:Imperial/Double IPA
ABV: 9.4 %

Commercial description: You have in your hands a devastatingly fresh double IPA. While freshness is a key component of many beers- especially big, citrusy, floral IPAs- we’ve taken it further, a lot further, in this IPA. You see, we specifically brewed it NOT to last. We’ve not only gone to extensive lengths to ensure that you’re getting this beer in your hands within an extraordinarily short window, we made sure that the Enjoy By date isn’t randomly etched in tiny text somewhere on the bottle, to be overlooked by all but the most attentive of retailers and beer fans. Instead, we’ve sent a clear message with the name of the beer itself that there is no better time than right now to enjoy this IPA.

Batch List:
Enjoy By 09-21-12
Enjoy By 11-09-12

APPEARANCE (5/5)

Pours brilliantly clear pale gold body capped by a big frothy head. Perfect transparency and two fingers of off-white froth that lingers for a few minutes, eventually receding in a rocky head. Lots of lacing.

AROMA (10/10)

Strong Nelson hop aroma; very floral, pineapple, mango, lemon, orange, grapefruit.  Light malts, and some yeasty sweet sugar aroma at the end. There is a deep, dank smell which adds a bit of charm without being unpleasant. There’s even a bit of hop spice aroma to even things out. There is a good amount of sweet malt, but there’s no mistaking it – this beer is all about the hops.

FLAVOR (19/20)

Tastes follows the nose. Extremely dank hops dominate, with a few citrus notes in the beginning. Citra and Nelson Sauvin goodness dominate. Notes of lemon zest and orange midway through the taste, and the hops seem to linger in the background, but are very well kept under wraps until the swallow finishes, and then you can taste that dankness. As you drink it, the complexity heightens, and that lemony citrusy goodness comes through until you finish it, never really losing any momentum. Hints of lavender, onion, chive and basil? Awesome.

MOUTHFEEL (5/5)

On the lighter side of medium, this feels light and bright with an almost silky smoothness in the mouth – carbonation is plentiful but not harsh; begins smooth but then has some bright, nearly sharp edges near the back of the tongue. Finish is on the dry side with some slight hop oils on the palate.

OVERALL IMPRESSION (9/10)

The complexity of hops here is beyond description – huge citrus notes, floral and herbal hop and just enough sweetness. Your mouth will be alive after each sip. One great DIPA! The entire experience was enjoyable because no one aspect dominated; it’s bitter and hoppy while being sweet and tropical at the same time.

FINAL SCORE  (48/50)

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