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Eat & Drink » Drink

Complex Effects

Creating flavors that assault the senses


  • Mike Riedel

We here in the palatial offices of City Weekly's Beer Nerd division pride ourselves on our cutting-edge analysis and reporting of the hottest trends and flavors. This week, we were lucky to encounter a beer/wine hybrid and an IPA that manage to pull off fruit salad quantities of flavor, relying only on hops and malt. We love our job.

Proper - Mega Yacht Rock Juice Box: This big brother to Proper Brewing's Yacht Rock Juice Box dials in at 7.6 percent ABV instead of the more sessionable 5.0 percent. It pours a murky orange, slightly amber color, with a moderate head that fades quickly. Strong aromas showcase ripe tangerine, strawberry, melon, berry and black tea, with some tropical fruit and strawberry support—a nice balance of citrus and tropical. It's like if you mixed orange and pink Starburst, but with some herbal notes.

This one really nails the west-coast flavor. I get lots of tangerine, strawberry, melon and black tea, but fewer tropical notes than the nose. There's much more of a pine flavor, with a strong bitterness. A semi-strong syrupy sweetness emerges to battle the bitterness, but overall it finishes bitter as expected—not quite West Coast, with a strong candied-malt body. That body is medium, light and low carbonation. It's very slightly resinous, but overall I was impressed with the relative crispness.

Overall: I would describe this as one of the best-balanced IPAs that leans West Coast, featuring some great grapefruit and tangerine flavors. Nothing stands out, but it definitely leans bitter while capturing citrus and tropical flavors well. It's not on the bitterness level of a Sierra Nevada Torpedo or Stone IPA, but more drinkable, and allows the fruit flavors and sweetness to come through.

TF - Maxine Oenobeer: This new grissette features German pilsner and wheat malt that is rested in Chardonnay barrels for conditioning. The addition of Merlot grapes and oak add a complex yet refreshing aspect to the beer. It pours a mostly clear burnt fuschia color, with a head that withers quickly; there are tons of bubbles rising as seen on the side of the glass. I initially got a healthy dose of hops, with what seemed like American varieties in there mixed with some spicy Saaz. Interesting. I guess the grapes are giving the beer the dryness that you get with some red wines, as reflected in the color.

The flavor is also a mix of malt and hops, but the grapes are more noticeable here than in the aroma—of the cold beer, that is. The hops must all be in the last additions, as the grapes are adding a significant part of the bittering by themselves. The mouthfeel is medium, with high carbonation and a good bit of body to be elevated by this carbonation; it's quite complex, and more than you get with more ordinary beers. The grapes add to the whole ensemble in a very well-blended way. The finish is toward the dry side, but there is a lot going on to challenge it.

Overall: I have been pretty impressed with this beer. To me, it is obvious that they learned something from their previous grissette to get the balance just right. I like how the hops are such a subtle player in the aroma and the initial parts of the taste, then they step aside and let the rest of the beer do its thing for the finish. The grapes seem to really work with this one, and I think that they have done it really well.

I like that Maxine is on drafty only; it gives you the opportunity to reflect on what you're drinking, while enjoying the brewery's atmosphere. Mega Yacht Rock Juice Box offers the benefits of being enjoyed at one of Proper's many restaurants and pubs, or in the comfort of your personal space. As always, cheers!