Iechyd Da Dragon's Lair and Bell's Hopslam are back

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By: Eric Strader
ericstrader69@gmail.com

Eric Strader

Two of my favorite beers are making their seasonal appearance. Last week, Summer Lewis of Iechyd Da Brewing company informed me that Dragon’s Lair Imperial Coffee Stout (10 percent ABV) would be on tap starting last Saturday, January 10.

This is an amazingly tasty stout brewed with five pounds of cold-steeped Sumatra dark coffee from the Refinery Coffee Company. Even though this is a limited edition beer, it should be around for a bit to warm you up on these chilly winter days.

With a big malt bill, there are plenty of roasty coffee and chocolate flavors to enjoy in this beer. This will also be one of the offerings from Iechyd Da at South Bend Brewfest Jan. 24.

Brewer Chip Lewis’ Dirty Frenchman Saison (his batch 200, hoppy black saison, 9.5 percent ABV, IBUs 30) is also still on tap at Iechyd Da. This one isn’t going to last too much longer, and it is really worth checking out.

When I was at the brewery last week, I was able to enjoy a Prosperity Pale Ale Simcoe (5.6 percent ABV, IBUs 32). This is a single hop pale ale, and Chip changes up the hops each time he brews it.

The Simcoe hops in this batch provided a fruitiness up forward on my palate with some piney bitterness following. The previous batch of Prosperity was brewed with Mosaic, but unfortunately that is gone.  

Another beer that I sampled was Devil’s Bridge Indian Brown Ale (4.5 percent ABV, IBUs 65).  According to the menu, this beer is described as a hoppy session brown ale. Unlike IPAs there is plenty of malty sweetness up front, with some caramel and chocolate notes underneath the Cascade hops.

Also on tap: Local Blonde, Garden Gnome ESB, Bombardier Robust Porter, Breakfast Cookies Stout, Mill Pond IPA.  So many good beers to choose from.

The other favorite beer making it’s seasonal appearance?

Yes, if you haven’t heard already, Bell’s Hopslam (double IPA, 10 percent ABV, IBUs 70) was available both on tap at the Eccentric Cafe, and in bottles at Bell’s General Store as of January 13 this week. In fact, some buddies from Goshen, enjoying Kalamazoo Beer Week tonight, are picking some up for me as I write.

It doesn’t look like Hopslam will ship to Indiana until the week of Feb. 2. However, I have been informed that the Hopslam coming to Indiana should be the beginnings of the second batch, so hopefully it will still be really fresh when it arrives. Look for it on tap at your favorite local watering hole.

Speaking of my local watering hole, the Constant Spring has a great event coming up.

Greenbush Brewing will have four taps on Friday, Jan. 16:  Remnant of Dragon (imperial red ale, 9 percent ABV), Starchicken Shotgun (IPA, 6.8 percent ABV), and a very rare keg of Delusion (barrel aged imperial cream stout, 11.7 percent ABV, aged in barrels from Journeyman Distillery).

This is one of only two kegs of Delusion in northern Indiana, and Greenbush hand picked The Constant Spring to tap it. There will be a fourth tap that is undetermined at this time.

Other beers currently on tap at the Spring include Lagunitas Hop Stoopid (imperial IPA, 8 percent ABV), Stone Brewing Co.: Smoked Porter with Chocolate & Orange Peel (5.9 percent ABV), Victory Beer Dirt Wolf (double IPA, 8.7 percent ABV) and Founders Brewing Backwoods Bastard (bourbon barrel aged Scotch ale, 10.2 percent ABV, IBUs 50).

Here are some other beers that have recently arrived at Michiana bottle shops:

  • Dogfish Head’s Raison d’Extra (Belgain strong dark ale, 15-18 percent ABV, IBUs 50). As can be expected with such a high alcohol volume, it is very boozy. It is brewed with raisins and has big notes of dark fruits including raisins, plums and prunes. I enjoyed a bottle fresh, but have some put away in the cellar to enjoy at a later date.
  • Three Floyds/Half Acre collaboration Annica (IPA 7.3 percent ABV). This is a Mosaic single hopped beer. It starts out with a nice dank bitterness, but some fruity sweetness shines through behind the bitter. Initially, I passed on this beer, but after Aaron Nafziger (who also has a keg of this at the Constant Spring) highly recommended it, I returned to Chalet Party Shoppe to pick one up. It was worth it.
  • Greenbush Delusion, in addition to being tapped at the Spring, is also available in limited quantities in 12-ounce bottles.
  • Southern Tier’s Creme Brulee Stout (imperial milk stout, 9.5 percent ABV) makes a return after not being released for a couple of years.
  • Founders Imperial Stout (10.5 percent ABV, IBUs 90) and Black Rye (7.5 percent ABV, IBUs 78). The imperial stout is an old favorite seasonal and the Black Rye makes it first return appearance since 2006. I did have an opportunity to try this beer once, but I look forward to tasting it fresh.
  • Arcadia Barrel Aged Shipwrecked Porter (Baltic porter, 12 percent ABV). I was disappointed to see that Arcadia used red foil this year instead of wax on the bottle. When this beer first was released, I really loved it. However, I think that there are many more barrel-aged beers that are just as good now available. It is still a really good beer and worthy of a chilly night in front of a fire — just not at the very top of my list.

Smuttynose’s Durty Hoppy Brown Ale (American brown ale, 8.4 percent ABV) should be on shelves soon if it is not already. According to one Chalet Party Shoppe employee, this is the best example of a hoppy brown that they’ve experienced. It was quite popular at the Goshen stores, so you may want to pick this up before it’s gone.

Sierra Nevada and New Belgium each will be debuting new year-rounders and seasonals soon. Sierra Nevada’s first quarter seasonal will be its Beer Camp Hoppy Lager (7 percent ABV, IBUs 55), which is based on its Ballast Point collaboration from last year’s Beer Camp mixed 12-pack. They also kept the name “Nooner” but changed the beer from a session IPA to a pilsner.  

In February Sierra Nevada will release its new IPA Hop Hunter (6.2 percent ABV, IBUs 60), made with distilled hop oil for extra aroma punch.

New Belgium’s Portage Porter (6 percent ABV, IBUs 38) is its new first quarter seasonal and its Slow Ride session IPA (4.5 percent ABV, IBUs 40) should arrive soon. Bottles of Sierra’s Estate Grown Ale (6.7 percent ABV, IBUs 67) also arrived recently.

Lastly, for you Three Floyds fans who don’t mind paying premium prices for 22-ounce bombers, this news is for you.

Dreadnaught (imperial IPA, 9.5 percent ABV, IBUs 100) is back after not being available locally for some time. And if you are a fan of Permanent Funeral (10.5 percent ABV, IBUs 100), watch The Constant Spring’s Facebook page. They have a barrel waiting in the wings.  

But the really big news is that bottles of Blot Out The Sun (imperial stout, 10.4 percent ABV, IBUs 97) have arrived locally for the first time. It’s not cheap, but gets really good reviews.

With Three Floyds, sometimes it’s hard to separate the hype from the quality. They brew really good beer, but often times at really high prices and very limited quantities. All three brands of Three Floyds beers listed here are a single bottle limit at Chalet Party Shoppe stores. I got my one bottle of Blot out the Sun and I plan to enjoy it some evening very soon.

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