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Wednesday, December 12th 2012

Toke Some Malt & Burn That Bush:
A Tale of Two Smoked IPAs

Who would have thought that the mighty, mighty IPA was so versatile? Lining the shelves at the local beer store these days are English IPAs, American IPAs, Belgian IPAs, White IPAs, Black IPAs, Session IPAs, Imperial IPAs, Triple IPAs, and even Coffee IPAs. So where can we go from here with one of America's favorite craft beer styles? How about a Smoked IPA? Hey, why not? Recently two versions of this new, and yet to be recognized, style caught our attention here at CraftCans.Com and yep, they're both in cans.

The first was Golden Road's Burning Bush Smoked IPA, this was the brewery's second offering in their "Custom IPA" series - and previously brewed for the brewery's opening celebration last year. The first thing that strikes you is the imagery on the can, its a picture of the 2007 Griffith Park wildfires and is one of the more vivid can designs we've seen to date. This is the brewery's fall seasonal and fall is wildfire season is southern California. 

According to their website:

"Brewmaster Jon Carpenter had a vision so absurd in scope that it took his brew team tasting the finished Burning Bush to believe that his revelation was divine. The first known Rauch IPA to our knowledge, Burning Bush uses the smoked malt characterized by a traditional German style Rauchbier with the hops of a west coast IPA. This deep copper colored ale has a light smoky aroma that sits atop a generous floral and piney hopping. At 8%, it’s difficult to taste the alcohol in this smooth-drinking IPA. With its wispy smoke character, Burning Bush is also an incredible complement to grilled foods."

The description they give of Burning Bush is pretty much spot on. Not only was the alcohol buried deeply in the complexity of this very smooth and very balanced beer, but the smokiness and the hoppiness were both very present with neither being overpowering. Big citrus and piney flavors are present, it is afterall clocking in at 70 IBUs, and yet so was a very good amount of woodsy smokiness. I've got to admit that this one was one the first true "holy sh*t" beer experiences I've had in a while. The flavor combination here was so unique and after drinking so many beers that fit into defined categories I think my taste buds were pretty shaken up with excitement. This is definitely a beer that I'm going to miss now that my last can has been thoroughly emptied and enjoyed. 

The second Smoked IPA that has come around recently was the aptly named oSKAr the G'Rauch. This was a "CANlaboration" brew that paired Oskar Blues and Ska Brewing together. The two Colorado breweries have become synonymous with canned craft beer over the years and oSKAr the G'Rauch is the product of a joint celebration of ten years of canning. What a name and what a beer! You've also got to love the label they put together that is equal parts Ska and equal parts Oskar Blues - right down to the skull-faced monkey riding a bike and the stars and the black and white Ska checkered background. Oh yeah, before I forget, they also released this beer at the brewery in both 16 oz. and their new 19.2 oz. "royal pint" cans.

From the folks at Oskar Blues:

"What did oSKAr the G’Rauch say to the face? Slap! Aromas of freshly-peeled orange and apricots with a touch of……..smoke? Juicy citrus and fruit flavors dominate but don’t overpower the slightly sweet malt structure. Finish is all citrus rind ping-ponging with some smoky phenols. 8.5% ABV. MANY IBU."

The first thing that caught my attention, after staring at the label art on this one, was the use of El Dorado hops. This is a rather new hop, having just been released in the fall of 2010. As far as hop profiles go, its used as both an aroma and bittering hop and packs some big fruit flavors that might differ a bit from the usual citrus. Think pears, mangos, pineapples, and even watermelon. Now combine a ton of that with some super mellow and delicious smoked malt.

The liquid inside this can is, much like Burning Bush, altogether unique, fun, exciting, and different...and it works surprisingly well. Along with the very well defined smokiness, oSKAr the G'Rauch had a juicy sweet malt background, and a palate tingling and tongue numbing hoppiness too it. This is a bigger beer with some very big flavors, but they all play together nicely. No bullying in this brew. Cheers to both Oskar Blues and Ska Brewing on ten years of canning their beers!

Perhaps these two breweries are on to something. Are Smoked IPAs going to catch on with other breweries throughout the country? Perhaps. Who really knows how the craft brewing world will respond. Most breweries are constantly looking for the next big thing, whether they're coming up with it themselves or trying a style with which another brewery has had success. Regardless of what happens, its always great to see breweries doing new things - and even better when those new things also taste great. Cheers!


Posted by Russ


Labels: Smoked IPAs


Wednesday, December 12th 2012

oSKAr the GRauch Smoked IPA
(Oskar Blues and Ska Brewing)

How do two of Colorado's most well-respected breweries both celebrate ten years of canning their beer? Brew an amazing beer together, can it, and then throw a big party! That's what Oskar Blues and Ska Brewing did a few weeks back. The beer they brewed, which was aptly named oSKAr the G'Rauch, is a big, hoppy, smoked IPA and was packaged in both 16 and 19.2 oz. cans. Check out the label art, who doesn't love a skeleton-faced monkey riding a bike? Happy CANniversary!

From Oskar Blues:

"What did oSKAr the G’Rauch say to the face? Slap! Aromas of freshly-peeled orange and apricots with a touch of……..smoke? Juicy citrus and fruit flavors dominate but don’t overpower the slightly sweet malt structure. Finish is all citrus rind ping-ponging with some smoky phenols. 8.5% ABV. MANY IBU."


Here we go...


Pour – deep golden in color with a very clean appearance and a big, thick, fluffy white head that sits gloriously on top. This looks very, very good.

Aroma – plenty of smokiness hitting the nose right away with some sweet smelling tropical fruit aroma in the background. Love that smokey aroma, wow. This smells pretty much what you might expect a smoked IPA to smell like. Sort of like someone took a bag of fresh hops and threw them in a smokehouse for awhile. The hop aroma is there but it is certainly tinged by the smokiness from the malt.

Taste – wow. Really. This is an impressive beer. The smokiness is not overpowering on the palate but it also sitting idly by while the hops take over. Nope, this is definitely telling you that there is plenty of smoked malt in there to balance out the El Dorado hops that are also assualting the sense with big sweet orange and pineapple flavors. Somehow it all comes together nicely and the tastebuds are rejoicing after each sip and continue to do so as the smokiness and the hoppiness linger happily side by side.


Overall - very impressive beer. One can only imagine that with a beer like this it would be easy to have things go wrong. A little too much smoked malt and this turns into something completely different. Too many hops and this becomes too bitter and unbalanced. We're glad to see two of our favorite breweries come together after so many years and brew something so original...and so delicious. CANgrats!


Note - Smoked IPAs are a relatively new, and still unrecognized, "style". Very few have been done at a production level. One of the only others we know of was Golden Road Brewing Company's Burning Bush Smoked IPA, which was the second release in their Custom IPA series. Perhaps we'll see more of them, who knows. We sure hope so!




Hops Scale:
(See All Rated)

Campfire Scale:
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Can Scale:
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oSKAr the G'Rauch
Style: American IPA
Brewery: Oskar Blues Brewery
City: 
Longmont, Colorado  
Country: 
United States  
Container: 16 oz. can
Malts: ???
Hops: El Dorado
ABV: 8.5%
IBUs: ???
Date: December 12th, 2012

Posted by Russ


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Tuesday, December 11th 2012

Burning Bush Smoked IPA
(Golden Road Brewing)

Wow, a "Smoked IPA"! Definitely a first in my book and perhaps the first version of this "style" that I've ever seen. As much as I'm leaning towards being a bit apprehensive, I'm also quite excited to try something that sounds so unique and new. Burning Bush is Golden Road's second release in their "Custom IPA" series. This was also their fall "seasonal" which ties in with the name of the beer and the can design. It was first released as a draught-only offering during the breweries opening celebration last year. Yeah, hard to believe that they've only been brewing for just over a year.

From the Golden Road site:

"Brewmaster Jon Carpenter had a vision so absurd in scope that it took his brew team tasting the finished Burning Bush to believe that his revelation was divine. The first known Rauch IPA to our knowledge, Burning Bush uses the smoked malt characterized by a traditional German style Rauchbier with the hops of an west coast IPA. This deep copper colored ale has a light smoky aroma that sits atop a generous floral and piney hopping. At 8%, it’s difficult to taste the alcohol in this smooth-drinking IPA. With its wispy smoke character, Burning Bush is also an incredible complement to grilled foods."

Here we go...

Pour – golden peachy in appreaance with a nice clean and clear hue as well as a half inch or so of white head. Leaves some nice lacing as it fades.

Aroma - stick a nose in a glass of Burning Bush and you'll be left picking out aromas for awhile. The first thing that hits the senses is a combination of sweet citrus and a campfire. The smokiness is there but not overly assertive in the aroma. It's amazing how much piney hoppy aroma this is packing but never without that smokiness coming into play in the background. As a fan of both rauchbiers and big hoppy IPAs this is really a treat to take in.

Taste – one sip and you know you've gotten the best of both worlds. My palate instantly starts picking out the smokey malt flavors that swirl around inside my mouth and begin to dry out my tongue while at the same time there is a barrage of big citrusy and piney hop flavors. This is all backed up by a good deal of regular malt sweetness as this is weighing in at 8% - but you'd never know it from the way it tastes. I love the flavor combination here. The hops are big and bold and the smokiness is at a level where its not overpowering but very, very present. This is delicious and unique and my tastebuds aren't all that sure what is going on - but they do know they're quite happy to try something so new and exciting!

Overall – holy sh*t! This is a beer like none other that I've had in quite some time. At a time when most beers are placed in specific categories it really is nice to try something that is both unique and ridiculously good. It should be interesting to see if other breweries try something similar as this is one of the best new beers I've had in a long time.

Notes - the design on the can, and everyone of Golden Road's cans, is from a picture taken by a local photographer. The Burning Bush can features an image of the Griffith Park (a large municipal park in Los Angeles) wildfires that took place in 2007. It is certainly a striking image for a can of beer and really shows how far we've come with the art and design of today's cans. 



Hops Scale:
(See All Rated)

Campfire Scale:
(See All Rated)
Can Scale:
(See All Rated)
Burning Bush
Style: American IPA
Brewery: Golden Road Brewing
City: 
Los Angeles, California  
Country: 
United States  
Container: 16 oz. can
Malts: 2-Row, Victory, German Rauch, Munich 120L
Hops: German, Northwest, & New Zealand Varieties
ABV: 8.0%
IBUs: 70
Date: December 11th, 2012

Posted by Russ


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