December 15, 2012

Night Shift Viva Habanera

Night Shift Viva Habanera - Rye Ale brewed with Agave Nectar and Aged on Habanero Peppers (2012)
Core Lineup Brew (Special Edition, Version 4a: Brewed Once).
25.4 fl. oz. / $12.99 USD / 7.2% ABV

About: "Brewed with rye malts that bring their own natural spice, this invigorating cerveza gets its zesty kick and peppery flavor from habanero peppers that we add after fermentation. Agave nectar, produced in Mexico, helps to sweeten and lighten the body, while our Belgian house yeast strain tempers the beer’s fiery disposition.

Batch #4 - Kappy’s Barrel Series (Release No. 04) - Bottled on 10/18/12: Aged in a bourbon barrel for two months, this is one of our favorite brewery releases to date. Whiskey vanilla and hints of pepper spice in the nose. The flavor itself is ripe with bourbon, oak, rye and and a crisp, peppery burn. We pitched fresh peppers into the beer after  barrel-aging, so there’s no missing the heat."

Thoughts: Cage was tough as hell to unwind, yet the cork slid out easier than any cork I've ever pulled in my life. Poured a very hazy, dark blood red with a light tan head that faded out pretty quickly. This beer is cloudy as all fuck man.

It smells super fruity. Very unexpected. I'm getting pineapple, yeast, rye, a tiny bit of grapefruit, a little bit of funky bubblegum... it doesn't really smell too spicy or much like habanero though, not until it warms up a bit. Later on it's just pepper oil and assorted fruits. Weird, but interesting.

A sour puck on the first bite, and after the swallow a sting in the back of the mouth and throat. It's actually very mild. This is way different than what I was expecting it to be. There's a definite peppery vibe here, but it's sweet to boot. The heat starts to work its way in after a while, but it never gets really spicy or even close to overwhelming... but this is one flavorful beer. There's a burst of spice in every bite, the flavor of the peppers are just so deeply embedded in this beer that it's always there no matter what, giving that unique addition to the main ingredients. Malts are especially strong here and so is the yeast. Rye is the order of the day, and it's got a worthy little backup from those bourbon barrels to develop a nicely done taste. Since I haven't tried any other version of this (there are eight or nine batches so far, with #5 reportedly being the hottest), I can't say whether or not the barrel aging has mellowed the recipe. It says in the description that they added more peppers after the barrels, most likely to compensate for this, but I would still like to try the hottest batch just to see how this one compares.

Mouth has a strange level of foam with each gulp that takes the watery nature of the initial sip to an interesting medium, and then when the tingling from the peppers kick you swallow and it's all but gone. It's pretty clean and dry, but fortunately the small amount of heat and all those flavors stick around for a long time. Very nice.

Too bad this one couldn't be a little more extreme. I would have loved it to burn the shit out of me. For lovers of Rye bread and Juicy Pepper Oil, I'd say grab this if you see it. I'm always on the hunt for beers with heat and well, this one pretty much falls in place with all of the others I've tried so far. Still waiting for the one that kicks my ass. This one may not be it, but it sure is mighty tasty. Smooth too.

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