This is a terrific beer. Just terrific. I could drink it all day, but if I did I would be a poor father and husband since it contains alcohol albeit not very much alcohol.
Down-to-Earth is aptly named since its glory is a mundane one. “Not Reinventing the Wheel” is a bad cliché and a worse name for a beer, but that’s what is going on here. It simply takes a good idea—a somewhat hoppy session ale—and nails it. It pours a sort of muted gold. Not sure what the hops are—Galaxy or Amarillo maybe, or maybe Citra since even my mom cooks with Citra lately. But it’s citrusy and good. ABV is 4.4% but feels even lighter than that going down. A few weeks ago I accidentally drank one in four sips while barbecuing.
The next day I got a six pack and a glass. Much different, more the smooth, light experience of the first paragraphs above (and that’s light as in easy not light as in Lite). Since then I have stuck with a glass and I guess I prefer that, though it sacrifices that bite somewhat.
2. Brickstone APA, Brickstone Brewery
Awesome beer. I will also say out of the gate that the 89 rating above (as of 9-22-16) is what inspired me to finally get a Beer Advocate account. I often wonder, when I see a rating like this that jars with my experience, if the recipe changed between all the B-plus reviews and my A-plus experience. I mean, 89 is not bad but this is no 89. It’s one of the best IPAs (OK, APA) I’ve ever had. I believe I must do my part to nudge this one into the 90s.
Man, the nose on this one. Just incredible—like sticking your face in a pouch of Citra pellets (a fine way to pass five minutes). You get it the second you crack open the can. The color is bright brass and perfectly translucent. It tastes real nice. At 6.25% it is guilt inducing when you try to make a session ale out of it, but you will want to.
On the personal tip, I literally tried to brew this beer two months ago, which is two months before I ever heard of it or the brewery. Total coincidence, but it’s got the same hops (Centennial, Amarillo, and Citra) that I used and the color/grain bill I was going for. Mine was decent, but nothing compared to this. My rave review may be akin to a folkie at the Gaslight in ‘61 doing a set and feeling pleased with himself—and then hearing Dylan crack off “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall.”
3. Navaja, Half Acre Beer Company
This is a good-to-very-good double IPA, but I prefer high ABVs in the great-to-incredible range. I bought a 4-pack of Navaja about six weeks ago. The last one sat in my fridge for a month. I kept noticing it and thinking “Oh cool, I still have one left!” yet not drinking it. I was glad it was there, but, like a fire extinguisher or a pocket constitution, it has a limited application.
Last night I finally cracked the last one: It poured out a bright, regal gold, like the blood of Achilles. But hang on, son, I split this one with my wife. One great thing about a 9.5% beer in a 16 ounce can is that it’s an ideal splitter—you can split it with a homie and still feel you are getting a full drink. So I gave her a few ounces and myself a few ounces, and then when I poured out the last four oz into my now-empty pint-glass, the gold was no longer translucent but cloudy. Sediment? Temperature change? Can conditioned? (Is that a thing?) I don’t know, but I’m sure if I poured it all into one glass it would have a different hue than what I saw.
It's sweet and finally balanced, not excessively hoppy, and the aftertaste lingers in the back of your palate like whiskey. Thus, Navaja is a fine sipper. Like an imperial stout, it’s a good beer for a long reading session or just sitting on the porch.