Ok, let's get one thing straight: I love BC. I'm all about supporting the local goods (including beer) whenever I can. But... sometimes you just happen to be in the United States, staring at a cooler full of delicious craft beers, all of which are $5 or less. And you just go with it. And then you end up with 6 tasty tall bottles in the fridge, straight from Point Roberts, Washington, just begging to be swilled.
Here are some highlights, courtesy of my tongue:
New Belgium Brewing 1554 Enlightened Black Ale: I love me a dark ale, and this one was no exception. In fact, it was excellent. Huge chocolatey malt flavour hits you right away and then lingers on the tongue. Coffee undertones and a rich mouth feel. Anything that can combine coffee, chocolate and beer gets automatic bonus points from my camp, and doing it this well means you win. I didn't know much about New Belgium until I found this article - and I must say, I'm pretty impressed by their philosophy (and now their beer!) I'll probably look for this again.
MacTarnahan's Brewing Summer Grifter IPA: This "deliciously wayward ale" is a smooth, surprisingly creamy IPA, with a bit of maltiness to balance out the strong hops. Weak head, low carbonation and a mild floral nose (didn't smell overly hoppy). Easy-drinking for a northwest IPA. One thing we noticed was that it definitely lost a lot of its hop profile as it warmed up - drink cold for the best flavour. More than drinkable, but not exceptional.
Lagunitas Brewing Lucky 13 .alt: This one was definitely the pick of the litter, in my opinion. The interwebs tells me it was originally brewed to celebrate Lagunitas' 13th anniversary, but it was so popular they decided to bring it back as a seasonal (released every June). Good call on that one Lagunitas, because this is a tasty, tasty brew. It's got big hop flavour, but also lots of the malty sweetness that I love. Starts out with grapefruity, sprucey hops and ends with a nice, almost caramel flavour. Deceptively easy-drinking for the ABV (8.3%). Creamy, long-lasting head. Awesomeness.
Lagunitas Brewing Hop Stoopid Ale: As a beer drinker who is still learning to love the punch-you-in-the-mouth hoppiness of many IPAs, you can imagine that I was probably a bit leery of a beer with the name "Hop Stoopid". But, in the name of adventure, I cracked 'er open... and was pleasantly surprised. For a beer with 102 IBU, it was inoffensive. Even... tasty. Instead of one hop flavour overwhelming everything, it seemed to have a more complex layering of different hops. I believe Lagunitas may have achieved that special little something known as "balance" (which, in my humble opinion, seems to be missing from more than a couple northwest IPA offerings). And so, fellow non-hop-heads - don't be turned off by the name and the high IBU. Embrace, and enjoy!
Until next sips...