A celebration of humulus lupulus at the Blue Nile.
On Saturday the Blue Nile Restaurant was host to a heavenly array of hoppy beers. With twenty-two beers to choose from, including three cask selections, it was a hop heads dream. They were offering $7 flights consisting of four ounce pours of three beers of your choice. With so many beers on offer, this seemed the way to go. Between my own flights and the sips I took from my friends’ glasses, I managed to taste a good number of the beers available. Here are my favorites.
Founders Centennial IPA – This was hands down the best beer of the afternoon. Those who know me know that I like balance in my American hoppy beers. Founders has it in spades. This beer displays a beautiful grapefruit citrus centennial hop flavor and assertive bitterness to be sure. The hop character is balanced by a malt profile more complex than any other beer I tasted that afternoon. Light toast and biscuit flavors add depth to the normal sweet grainy base malt to make this an exceptional beer.
Victory Wild Devil – Hop Devil has always been one of my favorite IPAs. Add a touch of Brettanomyces wild yeast funkiness and it’s just gotta be good. Wild fermented beers are not usually bitter. There is a danger that the hop bitterness and the wild yeast character will clash. That is not a problem in this beer. The wild notes are subtle, lending a light leather and barnyard to an otherwise balanced and delicious beer. Nice.
Alvinne Extra IPA - This offering from Picobrouwerij in Belgium was a delight. The bitterness is restrained compared to the American IPAs, but this is more than made up for by the delicious Belgian yeast character. Light clove and black pepper phenols blend with the hops rather than fighting with them as happens in many of these Belgian IPAs. This along with a huge peachy fruitiness really set this beer apart from the others. This is a subtle beer. The early sip I had from a friend’s glass was sublime. unfortunately I ordered my own too late in the game after my palate had already been destroyed by hops. Lesson learned.
Other standouts worth mentioning were Avery Maharaja Imperial IPA, Left Hand 400LB Monkey, and the cask version of Summit Horizon Red Ale.
There were really only a couple of disappointments in the selection of beers that I tried. Southern Tier Iniquity was one. I am not a fan of roasted malts in combination with loads of citrusy American hops, but this beer had been recommended to me by so many people that I had to try it. Unfortunately it tasted too much like roasted grapefruit for me to enjoy it. I was also not fond of the Double Bubble from Rush River. This tasted fine at first, but as it warmed strong banana aromas and flavors began to creep in. I also experienced a certain unidentifiable unpleasantness in the finish.
Overall, this was a great event. Thanks to Al for putting it on.