The other day I wrote about the investment deal between Firestone Walker and Duvel, and mentioned that outside of a few vocal opponents most beer lovers have accepted these deals as part of the modern industry. A notable exception to this trend occurred this month when Lagunitas announced that they were selling a partial stake in their brewery to Heineken, which resulted in outcry and even mockery from many in the beer community. A part of the outcry is due to the purchasing brewery, while Duvel is known for making a number of well-respected beers Heineken is known for their eponymous beer and Amstel Light, which are ummm, less well regarded by most beer snobs. A much more significant issue brought up by many on social media were previous tweets by Lagunitas owner Tony Magee ripping other brewers for “selling out”. I have no problem with the Lagunitas deal itself, but I completely understand why Magee is being called out for his hypocracy. This stands as a good reminder that everything you post online lives on, so be careful what you say/tweet/post. Lost in all of the noise is the reason why I won’t boycott the breweries that sell to big beer, most of these breweries make high quality beers. One of Lagunitas’ most popular releases is Little Sumpin’ Extra, a bigger version of their flagship Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ ale. Little Sumpin’ Extra is a double IPA with a twist, it’s brewed with a generous helping of wheat along with mounds of hops. It is available in the late summer/early fall on draft and in 12 oz. bottles.
Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Extra pours a deep hazy orange with a moderate white head. The scent is a mixture of floral hops and a little booze. The beer is hop-forward, notes of lemon, pine, grass and orange along with a solid hit of bitterness. This is balanced by a full malt body, touches of whole wheat bread, caramel and some alcoholic sweetness. You know this is a bigger beer right away, there is no effort to hide the 8.5% ABV, but it still drinks relatively easily. The finish leaves a little bite on the tongue, from both the hops and the booze. Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Extra is an interesting beer, mixing a large dose of wheat malt with DIPA level booze and hops, worth a try if you are a fan of those styles. Hoppy Boston score: 4.0/5.
Previous Lagunitas Reviews:
Lagunitas Day Time, Lagunitas Night Time, Lagunitas Sucks
It seems like Lagunitas Brewing Company is constantly embroiled in controversy. Many of these controversies are started by founder Tony Magee, who is never afraid to speak his mind, especially on twitter. In late 2013 he called out Sam Adams, claiming their new Rebel IPA was an attempt to attack Lagunitas’ marketshare and take over their draft lines. A more recent dispute focused on beer labels. It began when Lagunitas filed a lawsuit against Sierra Nevada over the label of their new IPA. I won’t get into the details, but the suit was dropped after an outcry on social media by craft beer fans. While the brewery has been the center of many squabbles over the years, they also make a number of delicious beers. One of their newest year-round releases is DayTime, a session IPA. Why did they decide to brew a sessionable version of their ubiquitous IPA? DayTime was brewed for the times when you want a beer but still have to be productive, the situation that calls for lower alcohol session beers. Lagunitas DayTime is available year round on draft and in 12 oz. bottles.
Lagunitas DayTime pours straw gold with a moderate white head. The scent is amazing, tons of citrus and fruity hops. It smells so good that my wife was sitting next to me on the couch and commented that the aroma was making her salivate. The hops come through in the flavor, notes of lemon, orange, pine and mango. The issue I have is with the balance, there is very little malt or body, it’s almost all hops. The bitterness is present, but pretty mild for a beer labeled as an IPA. The beer goes down easy, crushable at 4.65% ABV. I guess I could see knocking a few of these back on the porch in the summer, but I expected more from Lagunitas. I’ve had a number of other session IPAs that have great hop flavor and aroma without completely abandoning balance. Hoppy Boston score: 3.5/5.
Previous Lagunitas Reviews:
Lagunitas Night Time, Lagunitas Sucks
Since I started writing this blog I’ve noticed a few unexpected perks. A lot of my friends want to talk to me about beer and make/get recommendations. They also introduce me to others who are beer enthusiasts, and pass along word about the blog. Nights out at a craft beer bar are a lot of fun, giving advice on what to order and watching people enjoy beers they might have never tried otherwise. One of the greatest benefits though occurs when one of my friends comes across a beer that they enjoy and I haven’t reviewed it, and they decide to grab a bottle for me. I was recently out for a drink with my friend Rory and we were talking about our favorite beers. I suggested some porters and stouts knowing that he liked darker styles. He asked if I’d ever tried a black IPA from Lagunitas. When I admitted that I hadn’t he insisted that we swing by the beer store and grab a bottle. Turns out it was a good recommendation!
Lagunitas Night Time pours nearly pitch black with a moderate tan head. The smell is mostly foresty and floral hops, along with a little roasty dark malt. The hops lead the flavor too, notes of pine, grass, earth and a hint of lemon. This is complemented by a large dose of dark malt with significant chocolate and coffee along with a little plum and raisin. The beer has noticeable bitterness but it isn’t overly strong. Lagunitas Night Time is full bodied, but goes down pretty easy for a beer with 8.2% ABV. Overall this is a really well done black IPA. Sometimes the combination of dark malts and high levels of hops can lead to a muddled product with clashing flavors, but the flavors here work well together. If you are up in the air on the black IPA style I recommend giving this one a shot. Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.
Previous Lagunitas reviews:
One of the most popular craft breweries in the United States (at least by volume of beer sold) is Lagunitas Brewing Company, fittingly located in Lagunitas, CA. Lagunitas gained popularity due to their unique interpretation of traditional styles along with an irreverent sense of humor which shows up on their labels and in their marketing. Lagunitas owner Tony Magee got some attention recently when he tweeted some criticism towards Sam Adams. Magee accused Sam Adams of attacking other craft beer companies in the marketing of their new Rebel IPA. Lagunitas is famous for their IPAs, including a seasonal release they have named Lagunitas Sucks. In 2011 they were renovating their brewery and didn’t have the capacity to make their popular seasonal Brown Shugga’. Instead they brewed an IPA and named it Lagunitas Sucks, apparently to point out their own failure. The beer was so popular that it became a regular part of their seasonal lineup, and is now one of their most sought-after releases.
Lagunitas Sucks pours clear copper with a mild white head and nice lacing on the glass as you drink. The smell is all American hops, lots of floral and pine notes with some touches of citrus. The taste is also very hop-forward, resin, grapefruit, orange and a little tropical fruit. There is a solid malt backbone with notes of caramel and brown sugar. The malts really balance out the hop bitterness. The finish is clean, you get a little lingering bitterness and hop sweetness on the tongue at the end. At 7.85% ABV this is a pretty high alcohol standard IPA (not long ago it would have been called a double), but it goes down very easy. There are good reasons why Lagunitas Sucks is a sought-after release every year. Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.