Craft Beer Club: Breckenridge Brewery Lucky U IPA

Our group of beer lovers is comprised of some members who are very fond of India Pale Ales. Since the Craft Beer Club’s inception, almost half of the beers we’ve tried have been of the IPA persuasion. As self-proclaimed hopheads, we decided to pick one up that we had yet to try. We chose Breckenridge Brewery’s Lucky U IPA due to the fact that we were familiar with the Breckenridge name, and have definitely enjoyed some of their offerings in the past.  Breckenridge Brewery produces their ales from Denver, in a state full of quality craft breweries – “A place where the beer flows like wine…” – Lloyd Christmas, Dumb & Dumber.

Breckenridge Brewery Lucky U IPA

We opened up these bottles to find a great color: golden orange with a decent white head that gave way to some decent lacing – looks the part, so we gave it a whirl. The nose was reminiscent of any signature IPA, but we didn’t have the easiest time pinpointing any distinct aroma characteristics. It was on the earthier side and had some very mild grapefruit notes. As for the taste… unfortunately, for us, the plethora of hops (Amarillo, Magnum, Perle, Cascade, Apollo, Fuggle, Goldings) just didn’t work out. Those are all great hop varieties, but the characteristics of each, in our opinion, just didn’t come together well. It may have been the quantities or usage, but we didn’t find any noteworthy or extremely delectable flavors or aromas within. As a potential consolation, with 68 IBUs, a nice bite would have been great, but to our disappointment, that wasn’t entirely there either.

Maybe we’re just not on the same wavelengths on this one? Maybe the pack went bad? Perhaps we’ll have to give it another go for the chance at redemption somewhere down the line. Either way, we mean absolutely no disrespect to Breckenridge as we’ve tried some of their other offerings in the past and enjoyed them. This one, however, just didn’t seem to hit the mark and didn’t really leave us feeling all that “lucky.”

Have you ever tried Lucky U? What did you think?

Craft Beer Club: Real Ale Devil’s Backbone

This week we decided to tap into our more deviant side with Devil’s Backbone, a Belgian-style Tripel from Real Ale Brewing Company located in Blanco, Texas (our neighbors!). This particular offering really lives up to its name (“named for a scenic ridge that runs between Blanco [TX] and Wimberley [TX]“) as it takes you on a wild ride to Flavortown.

Upon first look, we noticed that the labeling was different than previous batches:

Real Ale Devil's Backbone vs. Real Ale Devil's Backbone New Label

We’re actually big fans of the move as Austin artist Joey Marez does an amazing job at bringing the beer to life in visual form. We give it an “A” for packaging for sure.

Now let’s get to the beer…

This beer pours a richly-colored golden pale hue with a considerable white head and solid retention. There’s certainly some great lacing, and man, is this thing a treat to smell. The nose is full of clove and banana, but there’s a lot more going on as we caught citrus, apple, and even a slight breadiness. We were hoping the flavor would match the aroma, and it definitely did to a tee. All of the things we smelled were seamlessly transferred to our palates, adding subtle notes of spice and pepper. The body isn’t too thick or too thin, but JUST right – for the style and for general mouthfeel purposes. The full-flavored malty character combines with that signature Belgian yeast flavor to provide the perfect stage for the Czech Saaz hops to bring a nice amount of bite on the backend.  “Complex” might be a bit of an understatement for this beer, as it brings so much to the table and even presents noticeable changes from start to finish.

As a surprisingly smooth-drinking (for the ABV) “dynamic” beer, we don’t see ourselves getting tired of this one. We’ll definitely be back to support our fellow Texas Hill Country brethren in their brewing adventures.

Have you tried Devil’s Backbone? Let us know your thoughts on the beer in the comments!

Craft Beer Club: Rogue Mocha Porter

A small group of us here have recently decided to create a club of sorts that celebrates the glory of craft beer. We rounded up a 6-pack of members and came to the agreement that this should be a once-a-week deal, taking turns, with each person bringing something new and exciting when they’re up. We ultimately decided that we could truly reap something from our weekly beer journeys by sharing our experiences in the hopes of raising awareness of all kinds of handcrafted beers – some of which you may already know and perhaps some that you don’t.

This week’s offering comes from a Newport, Oregon-based brewery that’s been concocting delicious and unique ales since 1988:

Rogue Mocha Porter

rogue mocha porter

With a nice collection of awards, including the 2012 World Beer Award for “World’s Best Stout & Porter” and a 2010 Australian International Beer Award gold metal, expectations were pretty high. And we can definitely say that this one delivered.

It pours a nice dark brown color with a relatively thin head that sticks for a fairly short time. It smells of chocolate, coffee and caramel, three Cs that are expected for the style. With a body built from a generous malt bill, including Great Western 2-Row, various crystal, chocolate, black, Munich and Carastan malts, this beer isn’t too thin or too thick, however, the carbonation levels were pretty high and it seemed to have a certain bubbly essence to it.

The various malts and relatively mild Sterling and Perle hops work in harmony to create a well-balanced flavor that isn’t overly bitter or sweet. The chocolate is very apparent throughout, though changes from a more roasted and dark character up front to a slightly sweeter finish with the bitterness of the hops at the end. Amidst the hints of caramel lies a surprisingly dry backbone. While some of us don’t typically drink porters in the hotter months, this one is light enough to make it session-able and pleasing to the palate even when it’s nearly 100 degrees outside – like here in Austin.

Overall, this is a very drinkable porter that had the expected chocolate and coffee flavors with an unexpected and refreshing carbonation level. It all combined to make a brew that I’m sure we’ll enjoy again.