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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Half marathons, free beer, and blogs, (Oh my..)

The title to today's entry should give you some idea of where I've been, and why I haven't been posting new reviews as I should.

Sunday morning I ran in my first ever half marathon, Bostons Run to Remember. It was 80 degrees. I finished in 2:02:59, just over my goal time of under 2 hours. My legs gave out just after mile 12, seizing up in cramps for the first time in my running life, forcing me to walk most of the last mile. Despite that little hiccup in the plan, it was a great time, and I'll definitely do it again.

Sunday afternoon I purchased the new: 


Sam Adams Latitude 48 IPA Deconstructed 12 pack.
Boston, MA  6%ABV

I totally stole this idea from Steve Greenlees 99 Bottles blog on Boston.com. I am a total hop head. I love them. Love the taste, the aroma, the bitter finish. This 12 pack gives you the chance to sample and isolate the 5 hops used in the traditional Latitude 48 IPA in 5 new brews that highlight an individual hop in each bottle. An awesome concept if ever there was one!

I start with the traditional Lattitude IPA, with all 5 hops and malts. Its a lovely brew, nice hops aroma, not overly citrusy, but very floral. Color is a nice dark copper. Taste is bitter, maybe orange peel-ish, the 5 hops -Hallertau Mittelfrueh, East Kent Goldings, Ahtanum™, Simcoe® and Zeus- from regions all falling within the 48th latitude line- nicely balanced by the 5 malts. There's a lot going on, but it's all good and hoppy.

Next I reach for the Hallertau Hop IPA. The label says these hops "create soft bitterness along with delicate lemony citrus and resinous pine notes". I smell citrus, and taste it, but I don't get any pine. Color is basically the same, nice dark amber. Hop presence is there, subtle by comparison to the original, but its good. Not as complex, its an interesting comparison. While there is a difference to the original, its supper subtle. I was hoping for dramatic. So far its not.

Next up is the Ahtanum. Label here says: "Ahtanum™ hops [Yakima Valley, WA] contribute a very balanced and typically “American” orange peel, piney and floral flavor and aroma to this brew, tempered by a slight sweetness and full body". Smell is more pronounced floral here, not sure I get any pine scent, and definitely get some orange peel bitterness in the taste. This beer has more character, but again its not a huge departure from the original.

Recall how I ran a half marathon in the morning? As I reach for bottle #4, the fatigue is starting to set it. I grab the East Kent Goldings IPA. The label says: "East Kent Goldings [East Kent, UK] add a mellow bitterness  with earthy, floral and apricot notes, offset by a slight sweetness and full body." Scent here is mellow, lightly hoppy. Taste is mellow, I think. I do get some earthiness, some very mellow floral characteristic, not a ton of bitter though, and no apricots. Maybe my pallet is done, as this is beer# 4 after 13.1 miles.

Despite the fatigue, I grab a bottle of  Zeus next. Probably best to not go to battle with Zeus when you're as tired as I was, but after 4 beers and 13 miles of running, clear, logical thinking are not my strong points. The label here says: "Zeus hops [Yakima Valley, WA] contribute bitterness and an intense, pungent resinous pine flavor." Pungent? Uh-oh.

I pour, smell and drink. Scent is not so pungent. Stronger than the others? Maybe. Nicely hoppy. Piney? It doesn't smell, or taste, like my Christmas tree. Bitter, yes, very. I like this version, but perhaps my pallette is ruined from the previous 4 beers, or maybe I'm too tired to pick out the distinguishing characteristics of the hops at this point of the evening. I decide to go to bed. The Simcoe hops has to be reviewed another time

That was Sunday.

Monday was Memorial Day.  I washed my cars.

Tuesday evening found me at the Harpoon Brewery, with my friend Chris, for another Harpoon 100 Barrel Series tasting.

As a Friend of Harpoon, I get invitations to these special free tastings they do at the brewery. I highly recommend joining this program. Why? Free Beer. You also get to meet and ask questions of the folks who brewed the beer. In this case, Rich Doyle and Dan Kenary, the Co-Founders who teamed up to brew Harpoon 100 Barrel Series #37- Rich and Dan's Rye IPA.
Harpoon 100 Barrel Series Island Rich and Dan's Rye IPA

This IPA was brewed to celebrate the breweries 25th Anniversary. Its awesomely hoppy, with subtle spice notes. They told a great story about the "research"  they performed to determine what style they would brew. Rich also explained to my friend why this beer appears clear when the label says its "unfiltered". They centrifuged it, and it sounds like that wasn't the intention, but we can't argue with the results. It was an awesome brew.

Before the tasting Chris and I met at the new Legal Seafoods on the waterfront for a beer or two. I'll spare you another beer review, but the restaurant is amazing, I recommend checking it out, but beware crazy prices at the bar on beer. Food seemed more reasonably priced.

Anyhow, that's what I've been up to, and why the blog entries have been delayed. Thanks for reading.

Cheers!

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