Thursday, August 4, 2011

Day 10 (8/3/2011): Hop Flood by Quaf Bros. (Brewed at Rivertown Brewing Company)

The idea behind Quaff Bros. is very, very unique and cool. A bunch of guys who work at the Party Source across the river in Kentucky have been crafting small batch, barrel aged beers and having them contract brewed at local breweries around these parts. The two breweries used so far have been Mt. Carmel and Rivertown, with the latter being responsible for the brewing of this beer.

I haven't tried any of these before, but saw a bunch of these singles the last time I was in the store and decided to give it a whirl. They only put out a few hundred bottles of each release, so I didn't want to miss out on something I probably would never get to try again.

I've read conflicting information about what this beer actually is: either a strong ale aged in rye whiskey barrels or Rivertown's Hop Bomber double IPA aged in bourbon barrels. Unfortunately this beer isn't listed on Quaff Bros. website yet, so a little clarification is needed. Regardless, it is a barrel aged beer.

The pour isn't really much to look at. Even a pretty aggressive pour yielded only half a finger's worth of white head that disappeared pretty quickly after the picture was snapped, leaving no lacing. The beer itself is a coppery-amber color, on the darker end of the IPA scale, but still almost transparent.

The smell, oddly enough, was very reminiscent of candy. The sweetness and caramelization of the malts blends seamlessly with the rich vanilla flavor of whatever barrel it was aged in. The hops are way in the back seat here; you can smell them if you try, but you really have to try. Does it smell like an IPA? Nope, but it does smell great.

The real kicker: how does it taste? May barrel aged beers have a tendency to have the beer flavor overwhelmed by the flavor of what was previously in the barrel.

I have to say, for a recipe drawn up by a handful of guys and then crafted in a small brewery, the flavors of the rye whiskey/bourbon are remarkably balanced with the taste of the beer. It is primarily sweet and malty, with the hops on the finish. A great deal of the complexity of the barrels is apparent in the form of the same vanilla and caramel as in the nose. Just like the nose, this isn't really your typical IPA taste, but it is delicious.

The carbonation is low on this, which is pretty typical for most barrel aged beers. There is a slight astringency and a little alcohol burn, but nothing major.

So what do I do with this? It is labeled as an IPA, but it surely doesn't taste like one. Then again, I don't know what a barrel-aged IPA tastes like and maybe this is it. All I know is that, other than a few moderate qualms I have (more hops! less astringency!), this is a really nice beer. I'll cave to subjectivity and give it an absolutely fly by the seat of my pants mix of how it keeps to the style and how much I enjoyed it. Based on that bit of calculation I give Hop Flood by Quaff Bros. a B+. I will definitely be buying every other beer these guys make, if for no reason other than the delicious barrels they use to age their beer in. I hear there's a porter coming out soon (feel free to email me if you need a review!)...

Style: Barrel-aged Double IPA (?)
ABV: 9%
IBU: ?
Beer Advocate: A- (4 reviews)
Ratebeer: Rating not available due to too few reviews

Single bottle purchased at Party Source for $2.99. You can only buy these at Party source and only a few hundred bottles were created, so don't miss out!

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