X – an Extra Pale Ale
brewed by AleSmith Brewing Company in Sand Diego, CA
X is an Extra Pale Ale that is brewed year-round by AleSmith Brewing Company. The beer is light and drinkable, but I was let down by the flavor. As a big fan of other AleSmith brews, this one disappointed me.
Immediately upon opening, this beer was a gusher. I was surprised by this as it was not bottle conditioned, but I know hydrophobin (a protein created by a fungus that infects malt during the brewing process) could be a culprit.¹ After it stopped gushing, the beer poured a deep gold with a brilliant white head that dissipated quickly. The immediate aroma I noticed was citrus, lemon with some hints of perfumey pear. The scent also had delicate undertones of sweet biscuity malt. The taste of this beer is what really disappointed me – it reminded me of old hops. Pine and citrus were definitely present, but there was a stale off-flavor. Unfortunately this bottle did not have a freshness date on it, so I have no way of telling just how old it was. This beer had a sweet aftertaste, almost medicinal – the lingering flavor was essentially a honey lemon cough drop.
AleSmith X clocks in at 5.2% ABV and 24 IBU. Based on my experience I would not recommend this beer, but as I said earlier it had no date on the bottle so it might be better when fresher.
¹Hippeli, Susanne, and Erich F. Elstner. “Minireview: Hydrophobins, ns-LTPs and Beer
Gushing.” Zeitschrift für Naturforschung, edited by Walter De Gruyter, 2 Aug. 2001,
Have you had this beer? What was your take on it?
Green Zebra– A Gose Style Ale brewed with Watermelon and Sea Salt
brewed by Founders Brewing Co. in Grand Rapids, MI
I was super excited this made it to Indiana! Having lived in Grand Rapids for eight years, I definitely consider it my second hometown. Founders Brewing Co. has brewed a beer every year to benefit ArtPrize, and Green Zebra is this year’s brew! What is ArtPrize, you ask? It is an open, independently organized international art competition and festival held annually in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Hundreds of thousands of visitors flood the streets every fall to experience this special event. More than five hundred thousand dollars in prizes are awarded each year, which include a $200,000 prize awarded entirely by public vote and another $200,000 prize awarded by a jury of art experts. Any artist working in any medium from anywhere in the world can participate. For more information about ArtPrize, please visit their website.
Green Zebra is a gose style ale brewed with watermelon and sea salt. It has been quite a while since I have had a gose that I truly enjoyed. I have described the recent goses I have imbibed as “drinkable” at best. Watch out world – here, to revive the true potential of the gose is Founders’ Green Zebra! For those of you unfamiliar with the gose style, here is BeerAdvocate’s description:
“An old German beer style from Leipzig, Gose is an unfiltered wheat beer made with 50-60% malted wheat, which creates a cloudy yellow color and provides a refreshing crispness and twang. A Gose will have a low hop bitterness and a complementary dryness and spice from the use of ground coriander seeds and a sharpness from the addition of salt. Like Berliner Weisse beers, a Gose will sometimes be laced with various flavored and colored syrups. This is to balance out the addition of lactic acid that is added to the boil.”
Green Zebra poured with dancing carbonation and topped off with a dollop of bright white head. It was the color of a wheat field on a summer day, and was effervescent with an ever-so-subtle haze. The initial wafts of aroma were tangy and almost sour, which soon gave way to a powerful smell of watermelon with an underlying hint of brine. The overwhelming scent was very reminiscent of watermelon flavored salt water taffy. As predicted, the carbonation of Green Zebra electrified and fizzled across the tongue, highlighting the tangy bite of flavor across the full palate. At first sip, I was greeted with a very sweet, candy-like watermelon flavor at the front of the palate, along with the light, soft, creamy mouthfeel. While the watermelon candy taste remained throughout, it got bumped to the background by a funky, sour taste – like a tart green apple. The tang was accentuated by sprinkles of saltiness throughout, and was capped off by the lingering salty aftertaste. Though the various flavor contributions to this beer sound like an odd combination, it truly finds a harmonious balance. Green Zebra clocks in at 4.6% ABV and 10 IBU. I highly recommend you get your hands on it, before this zebra goes extinct!
“Gose.” BeerAdvocate, 21 January 2012, https://www.beeradvocate.com/beer/style/16/.
Saw this at my local bottle shop, and was immediately intrigued. An IPA brewed with marshmallows? I couldn’t imagine it, so I knew I had to try it. Besides, the can design is awesome!
Shploing!! Mango S’mores is an IPA brewed with marshmallows, graham crackers, salt and lactose sugar with mangos and vanilla added. I love IPAs and I love s’mores, but I really couldn’t imagine the two meeting. It poured from the can a hazy, straw color with about a finger of off-white head. The head dissipated really quickly. The aroma was exactly what I was hoping for: strong mango scent, with a distinct vanilla marshmallow smell cutting through. The taste was prominently tropical fruit and citrusy hops. I picked up on an incredibly subtle vanilla aftertaste. The malt flavor definitely took the back seat to the hops, though I could see it being described as graham crackery (I suspect this to have a lot more to do with the actual malts used than the fact that it was brewed with graham crackers, but who knows?) There was a bit of sediment at the bottom, but not invasive or so much that bothered me. I’ll be honest, I expected a lot more marshmallow flavor than there was from this beer; but I was also worried it would be too sweet for my liking which it was not. I had fun trying this, and there were some subtle unique flavors, but overall I would categorize this as a basic, but solid, India Pale Ale. I highly recommend it for the bitter hopheads, but suggest you stay away if you’re only in it for the marshmallow. Shploing!! Mango S’mores IPA clocks in at 7% ABV.
Have you tried Shploing!! Mango S’mores? What was your opinion of it? What is the most unique combination of flavors you’ve had in a beer? I’d love to hear from you, please feel free to comment below!
As a beer lover with a film degree and a passion for film noir, I couldn’t pass up a beer called Femme Fatale, especially if it comes from Evil Twin.
Femme Fatale Brett is an IPA fermented with brettanomyces and hopped with Galaxy, Citra, Summit, and Cascade hops. It poured a hazy, bright, glowing orange and had a huge, frothy head with incredible retention. The aroma was of fermented fruit, notes of lemon, and sweet banana esters. The initial flavor was strong citrus and apricot, while a consistent sweet yeast undertone ran across the full palate. Mid palate was tangy, with a distinct brett taste dancing across the tongue, and a subtle biscuity hint reminiscent of sea salt. The lingering aftertaste was both sweet and funky. Despite the large head initially, the mouthfeel lacked carbonation and was thin and flatter than expected. If you are into brettanomyces and citrusy belgian ales, I highly recommend you face the funk and taste this incredibly drinkable beer. Femme Fatal Brett clocks in at 6% ABV.
Have you had Femme Fatale Brett? What did you think of it? Is there a beer you would like to see me review? Let me know!
4 Micro-Reviews of Grapefruit Brews
Labor Day weekend has come and past, and I am slowly saying farewell to summer. I am excited for autumn, but won’t truly be able to embrace fall until the weather cools off. To help with my transition, I decided to finish off the last of my Grapefruit IPAs and share some micro-reviews with you! You’ll notice these are less serious, more train-of-thought reviews than my usual. Enjoy!
from Perrin Brewing Company in Comstock Park, MI
Style: India Pale Ale | ABV: 5% | IBUs: 35
This beer has been a summer staple for me since Perrin first released it in the spring of 2013. Brewed with real grapefruit, this beer is super sessionable, and balances out the traditional grapefruit tartness with a not-so-subtle sweet malty backbone. A refreshing pool, river, or lakeside beer. Perrin’s Grapefruit IPA is not nearly as hoppy as I prefer my IPAs, so if you are also looking for something a bit more IPA-like check out Juicy, the Grapefruit IPA’s big sister. Juicy is an Imperial Grapefruit IPA, brewed with 12 different hops and twice the amount of grapefruit – an untamed yet refined citrus bomb of goodness!
from Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits in San Diego, CA
Style: India Pale Ale | ABV: 7% | IBUs: 70
This was actually my least favorite of the bunch, which really surprised me. Sculpin IPA (the base beer) is a really solid IPA of which I love, and I am also a huge fan of the Pineapple Sculpin. The thing that got to me was the aftertaste – it was just TOO grapefruity. I think the bitterness of grapefruit masked the beer’s complexity throughout the palate, and by the end it just tasted like straight grapefruit juice. Well, boozy grapefruit juice. This beer was not for me, but if you dig grapefruit juice it might be worth giving a try.
from Sun King Brewing Company in Indianapolis, IN
Style: India Pale Ale | ABV: 7.5% | IBUs: 77
Grapefruit Jungle (GFJ) is one of Sun King’s annual one-off specialty beers. I had the pleasure of attending Sun King Brewing’s 7th Anniversary Party and release of this delicious beer earlier this summer. The 2016 GFJ has a super fruity nose – aromatics of grapefruit, tangerine, and apricot. The taste on this bad boy is a well-balanced roller coaster of bitter and citrusy hops, with malt undertones that keep it from getting out of hand. This careful combination of Amarillo (ruby grapefruit), Simcoe (resiny pine), and Cascade (sweet orange zest) hops make this not only a solid Grapefruit IPA, but a solid IPA in general.
Grapefruit Dead is my favorite of the four on this list. As a Double IPA it naturally boasts a higher level of hoppy delight. This beer is brewed with grapefruit juice, grapefruit zest, and – like Sun King – utilizes the Amarillo hop to fully capitalize on the bright bitter yet citrusy flavor. The front of the palate on this beer presents a sweet, almost caramel-like malt combined with grapefruit rind, and quickly slides into a wild garden of resiny grapefruit bitterness. This has a smooth mouth feel despite the occasional bitter pucker and ends with a pleasantly warm, boozy finish. Again, this is not only a solid Grapefruit IIPA, but a solid IIPA in general.
Have you had any of these beers? Do you have a favorite grapefruit beer? Is there a beer you would like to see me review? Let me know!
BOMB! – an Imperial Stout
from Prairie Artisan Ales in Tulsa, OK
I first became a fan of Prairie Artisan Ales when my husband Luke was in Tulsa for a work trip. He brought back a variety of their beer and they instantly won my heart (and taste buds) over. Now whenever I see Prairie at my local bottle shop, I’m inclined to pick up as many bottles as I can carry.
As the end of summer grows near and my husband and I return to work, we knew we couldn’t let things get boring and bland. Backyard sparklers while drinking BOMB! Imperial Stout is one great way to make sure this summer goes out with a bang!
BOMB! is an Imperial Stout aged on espresso beans, chocolate, vanilla beans, and ancho chile peppers. It poured the color of dark espresso, topped with a quickly dissipating taupe head. The aroma was immediately led by a strong vanilla presence, which tapered off to distinct chili notes and the subtle underlying presence of coffee. My first sip was incredibly smooth with moderate carbonation. Sweet vanilla and earthy chocolate danced across my palate, the sweetness kept in check by the presence of a bitter espresso backbone. The chili spice didn’t show up until the end, which provided a pleasant, warm finish to the whole ensemble. This is definitely the best use of chili spice in beer I’ve had to date, primarily because the peppers aren’t aggressive, but are instead used to accentuate the other quality flavors. BOMB! clocks in at 13% ABV and 65 IBUs. For such a high alcohol content, this beer was far from boozy. The incredible balance of flavors mask the high-alcohol taste.
For those of you who love a good stout, I highly recommend this beer! I am a big fan of coffee beer, but tend to tread carefully when it comes to spicy beer – I have a fairly low heat tolerance. It takes a well-balanced, flavorful array that doesn’t leave my mouth and throat in pain. BOMB! did not disappoint.
Have you had BOMB! from Prairie Artisan Ales? What did you think of it? Is there a beer you would like to see me review? Let me know!
My first Polka Dots & Pints beer review was written nearly two years ago, after a trip to Toronto and a visit to Bellwoods Brewery. I adored every beer I tasted, but especially fell in love with Donkey Venom, a Brett Barrel-Aged Porter. It is easily among my top 5 favorite beers of all time. This weekend I was fortunate enough to travel back to Toronto and be reunited with this incredible place and their artful product. We had a great evening with old friends, delicious food, and excellently crafted brews. Trust me on this one, Bellwoods Brewery is a beer destination you do not want to miss.
Bonus: This time we were smart enough to snag a couple of bottles to take back to the States with us, so expect to hear more about those brews soon.
You can find my first beer review over on the old site:
Donkey Venom – a Brett Barrel-Aged Porter
Bellwoods Brewery nails it, from their quality beer to their hand crafted food. I also love everything they do in terms of graphics and marketing. Check out the Bellwoods Brewery website here.
Do you have a favorite beer that you don’t get very often? What’s your favorite “destination brewery”? I would love to hear from you – please, feel free to leave a comment below!