First of all:  we racked Honey’s beer and my mead on Saturday.   My hopes weren’t high for my mead, since (among other things) I don’t fancy sweets, and I racked to the secondary before fermentation had stopped, but I tasted the sample we took to read the specific gravity and WOOOO HOOOO!  It’s delicious!  I think it might finish maturing very quickly, but I’m so curious to see how it will age.  I used champagne yeast and powerful nutrients, so it’s going to be very dry, just as I like it, but even now, fizzy and mildly sweet, it’s tasty as hell.  Credit to my three-tea mixture in place of plain water:  Twinings jasmine, TAZO chai, and my beloved Market Spice.  Slightly citrusy, spicy, and floral, honey flavored rather than honey syruped; I love it.  This isn’t tooting my horn, this is loud cheers for the metheglin muse.

But we drank beer this weekend.  Here are some thoughts:

BACK IN BLACK, American IPA Brewed With Rich Dark Malts, from 21st Amendment Brewery, Cold Spring MN / 6.8% / 65 IBUs

A six pack of lined cans sold in a cardboard cube; hooray for no plastic rings, and plus one for a cute package.  Flavor is rich and drinkable, very porter-y (whatever that is), another one that tastes like Guinness probably used to before it became watery and mass produced.  Delicious.

PAYBACK PORTER, American Hops and Imported Dark Malts, from Speakeasy Ales & Lagers, San Francisco CA / 7.5% / IBUs?

Sour.  Watery.  No body.  Lightly carbonated. Flavorless.  This has to be a mistake, seriously.  I’ll give it another shot sometime.  There was no grain flavor, no hops flavor, no malt flavor, and there was no yeastiness, either.  Weird; insipid.  Had a Back in Black to clear my palate.

THE INCREDIBLE HOP, Imperial Black IPA, Fort Collins Brewery, Ft. Collins CO / no listed ABV or IBU / bonus:  message from Head Brewer John Swanson:  “Strapping, black, and highly hopped.  Just like Carl Weathers as Dillon in Predator.”  YES!

This made my night.  The phrase “black IPA” is now more evocative to me than the word “porter” (whatever that is.) Strong, fragrant, sweet, bitter, and rich — but really nicely balanced, and not overwhelming despite its potency.  Delicious!  Definitely worth a repeat purchase. Thank you, FCB, and congratulations on winning the test drive competition for Labor Day weekend!

The usual suspects — Stone Ruination, Rogue Dead Guy, Widmer mix ‘n’ match — rounded out the weekend.  I still miss my Boulder Beer Co., but…one day.

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