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5.8% ABV, Draft

Appearance: Amber, clear, medium off-white head with really good retention and lacing.
Aroma: Earthy and grassy hops over a toasty, nutty and sweet malt bouquet.
Taste: Strong caramel and biscuit backbone balanced with a delicate meadow of hops.
Mouthfeel: Medium-heavy bodied, surprisingly dry, with a moderately bitter, slightly fruity finish.

This is a really nice, well balanced, and drinkable IPA that packs a punch without going overboard into that “one-and-done” hop bomb territory I’ve grown so weary of. The hops are of the earthy variety, so fans of the grapefruit-y sort might be disappointed. There is an element of fruitiness, but it’s more from the typical ale esters. Another delicious brew from Odd Side.

10% ABV, Draft
Appearance: Clear and golden. Minimal head that sticks to the side of the glass.
Aroma: Strong hop presence. Hints of citrus, pine and floral.
Taste: Citrus and tart twinge. Sweet finish.
Mouthfeel: Medium, bready body. Malty, but not too heavy.
Bell’s The Oracle is the Michigan Brewery’s take on a West Coast-style Double India Pale Ale. The name is fitting as this DIPA is sought after but not always found due to its limited release. The aroma and bitter flavors make it clear that this IPA had a lot of hop loving from start to finish. Yet, it is still smooth from first sip to the last swig. The malt-hop balance created with this seasonal by Bell’s will have you seeking its wise counsel.

10% ABV, Draft

Appearance: Clear and golden. Minimal head that sticks to the side of the glass.
Aroma: Strong hop presence. Hints of citrus, pine and floral.
Taste: Citrus and tart twinge. Sweet finish.
Mouthfeel: Medium, bready body. Malty, but not too heavy.

Bell’s The Oracle is the Michigan Brewery’s take on a West Coast-style Double India Pale Ale. The name is fitting as this DIPA is sought after but not always found due to its limited release. The aroma and bitter flavors make it clear that this IPA had a lot of hop loving from start to finish. Yet, it is still smooth from first sip to the last swig. The malt-hop balance created with this seasonal by Bell’s will have you seeking its wise counsel.

~6.0% ABV, Bottle

Appearance: Clean golden coloring. Medium carbonation with nice malty head.
Aroma: Not as hoppy as one might expect. Somewhat plain. Weak nose.
Taste: Hoppy and bitter. Slight spice/bite. Lingering hops in aftertaste.
Mouthfeel: Light mouthfeel. Crisp carbonation. Thinner/lighter body.

New Holland Brewing’s Hopivore is brewed with Michigan-grown Cascade and Brewer’s Gold hops from the Leelanau Peninsula. This harvest ale’s appearance says Michigan fall, reminding you of the leaves you had to rake up as a kid. What the beer lacks in the aroma department, it makes up for with hop-filled taste. With one swig of this, an earthy autumn fills your pallet. While the herbaceous taste is there, the aromatic quality dissipates quickly leaving you wanting something more from this wet-hopped ale. In the end, Hopivore is an average session IPA that is slightly off the mark.

7.2% ABV, Bottle

Appearance: Clear copper color with a generous off-white head that lingers.
Aroma: Resin and pine hop smells dominate over sweet, caramel notes.
Taste: Follows the nose, with bitter, resinous hop flavors mix easily with a strong, sweet malt finish.
Mouthfeel: Medium-heavy bodied, slick on the tongue.

A wise Jedi seeks balance, so Master Yoda would be all about Founders Centennial IPA, which marries an intensely bitter hop presence with the sweet, malty strains of biscuit and caramel for about as well balanced an IPA as you’re likely to find in this galaxy. Perhaps a touch on the sweet side, this beer nevertheless delivers the goods, though at 7.2%, the Padawan is encouraged to exercise caution with this otherwise too drinkable brew. For non-Star Wars dorks, that means it’s tasty but it will quickly sneak up on the unsuspecting drinker. Limit two per customer if you know what’s good for you.

6.5% ABV, Bottle

Appearance: Pours a fairly opaque orangish amber color with frothy white head.
Aroma: An assertive bouquet of floral, pine, and citrus hop smells.
Taste: Bitter, hop-forward notes matching the aroma, caramel and toasted malt flavors, bitter and slightly dry finish.
Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, lively carbonation due to bottle conditioning.

Perhaps more than any other beer, Crooked Tree IPA established Dark Horse’s reputation for brewing solid beers and has served as a deserving flagship around which the Marshall brewery has built a portfolio of outstanding beverages. It’s a delight for hopheads, exhibiting a rich array of fruity, piney and even spicey hop aromas and bitterness profiles, all balanced on a caramel and sweet malt backbone yet fairly easy to drink and, most importantly, satisfying.

7.2% ABV, Bottle

Appearance: Gold amber with a small white head.
Aroma: A bit of a fruity smell.
Taste: Some fruit and malt are present, but otherwise very balanced. Some wood taste as well.
Mouthfeel: Very smooth, medium bodied with a moderate amount of hops.

New Holland’s Oak Aged Hatter is a perfect example of an easy-drinking IPA that is anything but bitter. The hops provide a bit of zing in the aftertaste, but otherwise their presence is covered up by the balanced taste of fruit and malt. There’s a bit of a wood taste to the brew as well, which makes it a bit earthy. All in all this is a smooth, well-balanced IPA that I’d be happy to drink again.

5.5% ABV, Bottle

Appearance: A hazy orangish-gold with a white head that quickly shrinks to a lingering wisp.
Aroma: A medley of floral and citrusy hops and spicy coriander.
Taste: Fruity and spicy, lots of coriander that melds into a refreshing bitter hop finish.
Mouthfeel: Medium bodied and carbonated with a smooth creaminess.

The newest addition to New Holland’s Hatter series of beers, White Hatter, is billed as a cross between a Belgian witbier and an IPA. Its witbier heritage contributes a strong note of coriander spiciness, slightly fruity yeast characteristics, and a lighter body, while it inherits from its IPA parentage a nice hoppy bitterness, all balanced with a generous wheat, oat and barley grain bill. And at a reasonably low ABV, you don’t have to share: Drink that whole 22 oz. bottle yourself!

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