I did a bad thing the other day. I "crafted my own six pack", only I wasn't at one of those "craft your own six pack" stations. I just saw three six packs from a brewery called River Horse, and put two of each in one six pack. I don't think the cashier cared. But I still felt bad. It feels good to get that off my chest. Thanks dudes.
I was instantly attracted to this family of beers because, let's face it, hippos are awesome. Also River Horse just overtook Sea Cow in my power rankings for Best Combination of Body of Water and Animal Names. I was even willing to overlook the fact that it's a New Jersey based brewery.
So I took my combo sixer of Tripel Horse, Special Ale, and Hop Hazard home for a little "special time". My options were a Belgian-style Tripel, an American Amber, and an American IPA. If those are your options, I would recommend starting with the Amber. It will be a little on the sweet side, have a pleasant mouthfeel, and you'll let out an involuntary 'ah' after each sip if you've got a good one. This is a good one. It has a nice balanced hop taste that makes this a great option for porch drinking on a sunny afternoon. That's true for all three of these beers, you want the sun up and shining when you crack open a bottle of this.
After my first three sips, I relocated to the fire escape to enjoy the last little bit of daylight after I got home from the Dudefest.com offices for the day. I put the rest of the beers on ice in my handy dandy cooler so I wouldn't have to move once I took a seat. If Jim Koch (founder of Sam Adams Brewery) saw me, I bet he would say I was doing it right. The Special Ale is 5.5% alcohol by volume.
From the Special Ale, I moved onto Hop Hazard. Hop Hazard is a little stronger than Special Ale (6.5% abv) and uses the same varieties of hops - Chinook, Cascade, and Centennial. I am a big fan of Cascade hops, I enjoy their aroma and the special spice of bitterness they bring. You get a little bit of that here, but they are balanced with a lot of floral hops. This is a hazy beer, it tastes like spring. While I was drinking it, I felt like this was the beer equivalent of how animals feel drinking river water on the African Savannah. Refreshing, yet a little dangerous (there are predators EVERYWHERE).
I wanted to chill out a bit with the strong hop palate, so I saved the Tripel for last. At first I thought it was just a little thicker than most beers because it took me a while to drink it. I later discovered that this was actually due to it being 10% abv. This has a much more complex flavor palate and that is partly due to the Trappist monk techniques that were utilized for authenticity. I'm a big fan of this style especially brews that are still fermenting in the bottle (meaning the yeast isn't filtered out). This beer is a lot of fun. But you should only do one or two earlier in the night because you won't be able to enjoy the complex flavors present if you've burned out your tastebuds with lots and lots of hop-heavy styles.
I would recommend giving these guys a try if you see them at your local tap house or grocery store. But if you're going to drink it in a bar, make sure they have a patio. You'll thank me later.
Smigoversen reads the words and drinks the beers. He twitters here.