Thursday, August 11, 2011

Review #20 - AleSmith YuleSmith (Summer)

Posted by: Tyler Rippeteau

Aug. 11, 2011

Ironically, my very first post as a resident of Boulder, Colorado is also my last review for the DIPA Project.  Yes, I finally tracked it down, drank it and reviewed it - a bottle of AleSmith’s YuleSmith Holiday Ale – the summer version.  As it turns out, it was a fantastic finish to the project coming in as the 20th most reviewed beer on The List and the 20th beer that I reviewed for the site. 

By the way, I have to give a BIG thanks to ren on Beer Advocate for the bottle.  He actually sent me two bottles along with an extra Port Brewing Mongo Double IPA – a pretty awesome extra that I’m very much looking forward to trying. 

Anyhow, I finally cracked this bottle open this afternoon and took it outside to the patio to enjoy some 90 degree Colorado sunshine.  I’m not quite sure if it’s the altitude and the sun talking, but this is one of the best beers I have ever had.  Wow!  Again, what a fantastic beer to close out the list with?  I expected to like it more than the average DIPA on The List, but I did not expect to be completely blown away.  I have to say, for my first AleSmith experience, this one is a winner and I hope I can obtain more of their stuff in the near future. 

OK, now that all my gushing over this beer is out of the way, let’s get on to the specs:

ABV: 8.5%
IBUs: Roughly 100
Brewery Location: San Diego, California
Style: American Double/Imperial India Pale Ale
Average Beer Advocate Rating: A/4.29
My Beer Advocate Rating: A+/4.75
Current Number of Reviews/Rank in the Top 20 on Beer Advocate: 20th/827
Brewery Description: AleSmith YuleSmith
Bottled On: Sometime in the Summer of 2011

APPEARANCE:  (5 out of 5) This might be the best looking beer reviewed on 20 Beers in 20 Nights so far, check that, it is the best looking beer I’ve reviewed here so far.   It poured a bright golden yellow color and was very lively.  Hundreds of bubbles of varying sizes floated to the surface for several minutes after the pour.  A nice, stark white, fluffy head rested on top this is where it started getting interesting.  Five minutes and about three sips into this beer half of the head was still hanging strong.  Not much lacing was present at that point, but that seemed to be because the head was still there just sloshing around.  Given that it was a relatively heavy head, it dragged whatever would-be lacing back down with it.  From this point on, however, the lacing became exquisite and full, covering a good 70% of the backside of the glass.  Bubbles continued to filter up half way through the pint, keeping the head alive.  This may be the only beer I’ve ever had that began with a normal sized head that was still intact when I took my last sip.  It was the most incredible head retention I’ve seen on a beer. 

On a slightly separate note, something should be said of the bottle as well.  It is very attractive in its simplicity – colorful, simple and very good looking.

SMELL:  (4.5 out of 5) Before I even poured the bottle I took a quick whiff through the top and got a nose full of pine.  That got me excited and as soon as the YuleSmith was poured I could smell it and again, nothing but wonderful pine.  A more serious sniff revealed…well…more pine.  This smells like a classic West Coast IPA, it reminds me of Sierra’s Harvest Ales a bit.  A little resin could be detected as the beer warmed, but it took a minute for it to come out.  The resiny smell then continued to build and got stronger as the beer went down.

TASTE:  (5 out of 5) Again, what a great beer to finish this project with.  It is big, bold, piney and very hoppy in a classic IPA sense.  A burst of hops and pine upfront smack the palate before a grapefruit and a touch of anise create a bitter rinse for the finish.  The aftertaste is clean, but bitter.  It really prepares the palate for the next sip.  I am very impressed.  This beer is delicious and much like the label, beautiful in its simplicity.

MOUTHFEEL:  (4.5 out of 5) This beer is not flat!  That much is for sure - it is extremely lively and exciting.  Tiny bubbles tickle the tongue and scrub the bitterness into the palate.  This beer seriously has some solid carbonation.  The mouthfeel of the YuleSmith is not simply another piece of the puzzle that makes up this beer, rather it is part of the framework that pulls the rest of it together.  One word to describe both the beer and the mouthfeel would be playful.

OVERALL:  (5 out of 5) The reviews on Beer Advocate were mixed and I am sure I will get plenty of disagreements with my review as I can understand how some IPA fans would not find this beer terribly unique or different.  What makes this such a solid beer to me, though, is the fact that it is simply so spot on for the style.  This is what a Double IPA strives to be – elegant looking, full of hoppy aroma and packing a bitter punch all while staying balanced enough to enjoy throughout the entire pint.  This is the first beer I have ever tried from AleSmith and it certainly is a winner.  I hope I can get some more of this deliciousness sometime soon.  I am just thankful that I have another full bomber and the bottom of this pint glass, which at the time of this writing I was just getting to, is not the end of the beer.

DRAWBACKS:  AleSmith pretty much drilled this one.  All I can say is that it wasn’t outside the box in any way, shape or form, but I also don’t really care.  If I wanted to get extremely nitpicking I would say that the resiny aroma that built throughout the pint eventually became a tiny, tiny bit more than I would have liked, but really this is almost a perfect beer for the warm summer afternoon I enjoyed on my back patio in Boulder.

SOUND:   I went back and forth on the sound for this beer.  The first tune that popped into my mind is a very obscure piece by a goofy, but brilliant hip-hop artist named Paul Barman.  The word playful is often the best way to describe him and in particular, his song “Burping and Farting” is a ridiculously playful, but intelligent piece.  The YuleSmith effortlessly pairs well with it, but at the other end of the spectrum is a more serious and maybe (given the name and the overall experience of this beer) a slightly better fit – Herbie Mann’s version of “Battle Hymm of the Republic”.  This was the song that Hunter S. Thompson would have made the National Anthem had he ever gotten his say.  Given that this beer is brewed specifically for the 4th of July I think “Battle Hymm” is the more appropriate sound – a patriotic tune for a patriotic beer that truly represents the best of American craftsmanship and creativity.  

Thank you to everyone who has read, participated, traded beer with me for this project or helped out with the blog in any way.  In the next week or so I plan to begin a new project and also to post a wrap-up of this one.  It will include what I learned, my awards for the best of the list and hopefully, a spreadsheet with the specs and rating of each beer.

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