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Victory Summer Love Ale

BREWERY WEBSITE: victorybeer.com
ALC./VOL: 5.2%
IBUs: 25
COLOR: goldenrod
AROMA: overwhelming scents of strong, inviting hops
THOUGHTS: Now I’m not usually one for the light, golden ales that plague our bar taps and liquor store freezers. They just generally lack that bite, that kick in the mouth that says, “I am here and I am beer. Drink me and be drunk.”

Summertime usually consists of sticking to the heftier IPAs and Double IPAs that tend to get brewed this time of year. That is until I came across Summer Love Golden Ale by Victory. They call it a light, golden ale but it is like an IPA cross-pollinated with an ale. It’s a little deceiving at it’s 5.2% ABV, because the German hops play off the pale malts so well that it does pack a bit of initial bite that then goes down smooth, leaving another refreshment of hops (American whole flower this time) that give it a tangy bite.

All that said, it is truly one of those beers that the minute you finish you want to crack another because it’s taste is just that unique. And the best part about Summer Love is it was created by Victory back in 1999 when the Greater Philadelphia Tourism and Marketing Corporation commissioned them the essence of the City of Philadelphia in the summer. And by damn, I’d say they did an incredible job of just bottling the taste of summer because after a couple I’m ready for some whiffle ball in the backyard or a romp on the sand with a lady friend I just shared a few with at the bar…

Victory Beer Summer Love Ale reviews

Maybe it’s the fact that I finally found a beer I’d been searching to taste again for years. Maybe it’s because we’ve got a brand new craft beer bar on the Island. Whatever it is, “let’s have a beer” is back and better than ever…

Abita Jockamo IPA

BREWERY WEBSITE: abita.com
ALC./VOL: 6.5%
IBUs: 52
COLOR: copper orange
AROMA: summer fruits and pine trees mixed with the spicy bite of hops
THOUGHTS: As I said earlier of Abita’s Jockamo IPA when I tried it for the first time while traveling cross-country:

The next stop was New Orleans, and we tasted the delectable Abita Beer. For the evening I stuck with the Jockamo IPA, which is named for the tribes of dancing, singing, chanting “Mardi Gras Indians” who have marched in New Orleans for over 250 years. It was a perfectly hopped, amber brew with tons of taste, especially while walking the streets of N.O. during the evening with one or five in my hand. 

So, after much searching and only coming across Abita’s Purple Haze or Amber or Light beers, a few days ago I finally stumbled across Jockamo IPA in a Buy Rite. One of the best things about Jockamo IPA is it’s ability to truly make you want to have another upon completion of one. And this isn’t because of it’s inherent nature of being beer, it’s because of it’s incredible flavor that’s a near perfect combination of intense hops and sweet malts—which makes it a perfect pairing for the spicy food of N’awlins.

Not only does it offer an impeccable taste, but Abita is also one of the leading micro breweries in North America in conservation and green efforts. They were the first to install an energy efficient brewing system that reduces energy use by 70%. They operate their own industrial wastewater treatment plant to generate their own energy. Their unfiltered beer that’s packaged in 6-packs is wrapped with recycled cardboard and 47% less cardboard than a normal 6-pack holder. Plus, their stubby bottles actually use less glass than the regular tall bottle and their sales team drives strictly gas-electric hybrids. So basically Abita makes incredibly delicious beer in one of the most sustainable ways known in America—what more could you want?!

The re-emergence of Jockamo IPA into my life this summer means it’s going to be one hell of a summer…

Abita Jockamo IPA beer review

Smuttynose Robust Porter

BREWERY WEBSITE: smuttynose.com
ALC./VOL: 5.7%
IBUs: 45
COLOR: a dark umber
AROMA: smells of that classic British ale with mixes of coffee, chocolate, and a hint of hops
THOUGHTS: First off, Smuttynose’s Robust Porter packs a much more massive punch than the numbers tell. Upon my first downing of this delicious, bone-warming beer, I felt a bit foggy—like I had just taken a few fists to the face from the goateed man on the label. It was the original sweetness of each sip that drug me in, followed with a slight hop bitterness that helped to deceive it’s alcohol content.

While looking at the second one forming it’s thick, tawny head, I realized it was quite the mix between a dark ale and a light, creamy porter. Something for everyone with it’s hints of chocolate and coffee and it’s subtle bite, all mixed with a taste and punch that left me feeling more drunk than I really was—and maybe the fact that they go oh so down easy helped to aid in the perceived drunkenness. After my 3rd I was feeling like me and Mr. Smuttynose on the label could be friends, he looked like an amicable guy. And thus, another solid winter beer to help push away this cold loneliness.

Magic Hat Demo, A Black I.P.A.

BREWERY WEBSITE: magichat.net
ALC./VOL: 6%
IBUs: 45
COLOR: a mix between black and caramel with a floaty mocha head
AROMA: chocolate, grass, roasted malts, an inkling of hops, coffee, hints of citrus, and oak
THOUGHTS: It is a fact that black IPAs are the greatest hybrid beer ever concocted. When you breed the cozy feeling of a stout (heavy on the malts) with the in-your-face bitterness of an IPA the results can be magical. Which brings us to Magic Hat, one of the best East Coast breweries (and American breweries) there is.

They institute a diabolical I.P.A. scheme throughout the year with four rotating recipes, all different from each other. Diabolical for someone like me who likes their beer to just kick them in the face and leave them wanting more (hey, what can I say, I’m a bit of a sadist with my alcohol). The scheme is called I.P.A. On Tour and it kicks off 2012 with this Black I.P.A. installment that I’ve already bought three 6-packs of in the last two weeks—it’s only available until March!

Their I.P.A. Tour is a tribute to hops, as they say, “specially formulated to entertain the palates of hop lovers world-wide.” And hell, that’s me, I love hops! Demo is damn smooth and goes down way more like a porter or light stout and less like an IPA—shit, I’ve been drinking this stuff like water. Not to say that they messed up this hybrid, because that would be entirely false, but I really would’ve liked more hops involved with Demo to add that bitterness of an IPA to it. Demo posses slight IPA qualities in the smell and initial taste, but if it possessed more (say leaving a little tang on the tongue) I probably would’ve bought six 6-packs just today…

Left Hand Brewing Fade To Black, Vol. 3 Pepper Porter

BREWERY WEBSITE: lefthandbrewing.com
ALC./VOL: 7.2%
IBUs: 1,984
COLOR: dark mahogany with a crispy tan head
AROMA: an olfaction of chocolate, stout malts, smokiness, coffee, and pepper
THOUGHTS: Exploratory seasonal craft recipes that change each year hold a time sensitive feel that I need to consume them now before my liquor store runs out of their stock. While pondering over which selection last week to fill my 64-ounces of growler with I realized that I’ve got a crush on dark beers during these raw winter months. So I embraced it and took a stab at Left Hand Brewing’s Fade To Black, Vol. 3 Pepper Porter.

The Colorado craft brewery’s Pepper Porter is anything but a typical dark beer. Sure it’s got that dark thickness typical of a porter, but the similarities stop right there. For this year’s edition of Fade To Black they decided to add something quite different to the brew: chile peppers.

Ancho, Chipotle, and Smoked Serrano Chiles mix together a smoky offering that gives a good representation of the spice meter. It’s a subtle pepper taste at first, fusing with the bits of chocolate, coffee, and black licorice to give an almost gingerbread offering. But the pepper spice eventually finds it’s way onto your tongue and into your throat to linger after the softness of everything else wanes. It’s not a hot spicy, but spicy enough to let you know it’s there. And it truly makes you want to take another gulp to figure out just what happened and how all those ingredients ended up blending together so god damn orchestrally. It’s apparent that without the chile peppers this beer would probably not stand out so much, but it also stands out despite the pepper taste because of how well they bring it all together.

I can honestly say it was way better than I expected, and I’m gonna go and grab a 6-pack so I can enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime brew all over again—heat and all.


let’s have a beer is a column meant to provide my craft brew drinking habit with a purpose. From growlers to canned IPAs to beers you’ve certainly never heard of, I will sacrifice my taste buds for the pleasure of passing on knowledge of something new.

Anchor Steam 2011 Christmas Ale

BREWERY WEBSITE: anchorbrewing.com
ALC./VOL: 5.5%
IBUs: n/a
COLOR: coffee black
AROMA: thick dark aleness with chocolate undertones
THOUGHTS: Generation long traditions typically flourish in our culture this time of year. It’s well-known that I’m not the biggest fan of the consumerism that gets shoved down our throats while certain ‘news’ channels who are funded by those ads ask why we no longer care about the savior’s day of birth?

One tradition I am a fan of though is Anchor Steam’s Christmas Ale. In it’s 37th year it has surely become one of the staples of my winter beer consumption. And all this despite the fact that every single year it receives a new recipe and a hand-drawn label. Usually it is a heavy winter ale, and this year’s variety is another tasty edition.

2011’s was actually a little hoppy for a dark ale, which complimented the dark spices and hints of chocolate and coffee. Putting down a few of these with Christmas dinner certainly put the lights on the tree out. Go out and make sure you give this year’s a try, because before long we’ll only have to wait for next year’s, and a whole new taste. Well done Anchor Steam, well done.

let’s have a beer is a column meant to provide my craft brew drinking habit with a purpose. From growlers to canned IPAs to beers you’ve certainly never heard of, I will sacrifice my taste buds for the pleasure of passing on knowledge of something new.

Magic Hat Howl—Black-As-Night Lager

BREWERY WEBSITE: magichat.net
ALC./VOL: 4.6%
IBUs: 32
COLOR: shadow black
AROMA: strong hops mixed with the roasty richness of a stout
THOUGHTS: Winter is fast approaching here in the northeast. Which means stiff offshores as the mercury drops, as well as that winter loneliness typical of coastal towns in New Jersey. Staying warm and occupied can often be difficult when forced to stay indoors for days on end. Beer (and whiskey too) can help cure those winter blues well. And what better choice to kick off winter beer season than with a northeast specialty?

Vermont’s Magic Hat does lots of different brews incredibly well—they know damn well what they’re doing with beer. But their Howl—Black-As-Night Winter Lager has got to be one of the best I’ve come across in years from them. Dark beers help to warm the bones in the winter, but sometimes one heavy stout can knock you out for the evening. The lager yeast Magic Hat uses compliments the typical stout body well, creating a winter beer that you can have one (or four) of in one evening. The use of dark German malts blended with German hops creates a complimentary bite to the initial stout taste, creating a marriage that’s smooth down to the bones. I can guarantee I’ll be stocking up on Howl right before the first snowstorm we get this year…