Ommegang Nirvana IPA

Ommegang Nirvana Packaging – photo by Charles Dunkley

Ommegang Brewery, nestled in the hills around Cooperstown, NY, is known for its fantastic  Belgian style beers.  Recently they decided to brew an American style India Pale Ale, their first non-Belgian beer.

Ommegang reached out to Boulevard Brewing, also owned by Duvel, to use their brewery to brew, bottle and package their new IPA.  Ommegang’s bottling line is configured only for 4 packs and they wanted their IPA to be in the more traditional 6 pack.

As part of their launch Ommegang opened a pop up store in SoHo in NYC where they sold Nirvana with custom engraved growlers.  Following this, Nirvana began to ship out to the stores carrying its regular Belgian lineup.

And so, tonight I walked into my local craft beer shop to pick up a 6 pack.  Ommegang is in my personal Top 5 Breweries so I was eager to see how they would do brewing an American IPA.

Here’s how Ommegang describes Nirvana:

Nirvana IPA is kettle-hopped with Bravo, Simcoe, Centennial, Topaz, and Mosaic, dry-hopped with Centennial, Citra, Simcoe and Amarillo and clocks in at 6.5% ABV and 60 IBUs. The flavor is hoppy, juicy and citrusy goodness – without harsh bitterness.

Nirvana is the brainchild of Innovation Manager Mike McManus at Ommegang. He developed the recipe in Cooperstown and brought it over to Boulevard in Kansas City, MO to brew.

Here’s Mike describing Nirvana IPA:

Innovation Manager Mike says the aromas of grapefruit, peach, pineapple and apricot are mouth-watering and the taste is a big citrus smack, rounded and juicy with tropical and floral notes and just a touch of honey malt sweetness. We’re sold.

My Impressions

Having poured Nirvana IPA into a tulip glass, taken in the aroma, and taken a couple of healthy sips, I’d had to say Mike McManus is spot on.  You definitely get the various citrus and tropical flavors with a velvety smooth mouthfeel.  And the malt backbone makes for a very well balanced IPA.

Ommegang Nirvana IPA in Tulip Glass – photo by Charles Dunkley


The beer pours a golden color with a small but firm head.  It’s pours clear with a nice steady carbonation.

Final Thoughts

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Ommegang’s first foray outside the Belgian realm.  And as a big IPA fan I was especially curious how this would turn out.  Happily this is a really delicious IPA and one that I can see myself enjoying quite a few 6 packs of this year.  It’s light and refreshing and very well balanced.  Definitely a really well done IPA.  Cheers to Mike McManus, to Ommegang and to Boulevard for contributing to this new tasty addition to the IPA stable,

Rooster Fish Brewing – Hop Warrior Imperial IPA

Rooster Fish Hop Warrior

As part of the Craft Beer Nation Friday Night Hangout Episode 153: Double / Imperial IPAs, I drank and discussed Watkins Glen based Rooster Fish Brewing – Hop Warrior Imperial IPA.

Below is that portion of the show.  You can find a link to the entire show by visiting the related links below.

Related Links:

Craft Beer Nation Friday Night Hangout Ep. 153: Double / Imperial IPA:
My Road To Craft Beer Nation:
Craft Beer Nation:
Rooster Fish Brewing:

Anchor Brewing Liberty Ale

Anchor Brewing Co. Liberty Ale – photo by Charles Dunkley

The original modern American IPA.  Or perhaps the original American Pale Ale?

First brewed in 1975 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Paul Revere’s ride, Liberty Ale re-introduced the near lost art of dry hopping to America.  Liberty Ale has the distinction of being the first post-prohibition modern American IPA, the first single-hop ale and the first dry-hopped ale.

Anchor’s Liberty Ale® is the original craft brewed ale and the historic beer that started a revolution. – Anchor Brewing

While Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is considered the original American Craft Beer Ale, Anchor Brewing has that distinction with Liberty Ale.  Which leads back to my opening statement/question.  When first introduced, Liberty Ale was high on the IBU scale at 47 IBUs,  mild by today’s standards.  This puts it on the low end of today’s American IPA and on the high end of today’s American Pale Ale.

Breaking down the answer to where Liberty Ale belongs no one opines better than Ask Bob Brewer.  All I know is it is a damn fine beer.

How does it taste?

Anchor Brewing Liberty Ale in Tulip glass – photo by Charles Dunkley

To me, Liberty Ale definitely tastes far more like an American Pale Ale than an American IPA.  It has that definitive malt backbone I expect from a Pale Ale.  And it has a nice, crisp, light floral hop taste.

Liberty Ale is a single-hop beer.  The hop?  Cascade.  It gives a nice bitterness to the beer, a hint of grapefruit, and a mellow floral note.  I can only imagine by 1975 standards this would have been way out there in comparison to the America Macro Lager.  Today finds this as a real solid American Pale Ale.

With the current explosion in popularity of the Session IPA, I wonder, were this a brand new beer brewed by Anchor for the first time, if this would be marketed as a Session IPA.

Either way, American Pale Ale or American IPA this is a classic and a very important beer in the rebirth of the American Ale and forerunner to the emergence of the Craft Beer industry we know and love today.

On Friday, April 3, 2015, for Episode 152 of the Craft Beer Nation Friday Night Hangout,  we drank and talked about the India Pale Ale.  While no one brought this beer to that show, I knew I wanted to revisit this beer.  And, considering Episode 151 was Pale Ale, it seemed like the time was right.

Definitely an American classic either way.

If you have a strongly held opinion about this beer.  From it’s taste or categorization, drop me a comment and let me know.


Craft Beer Nation
Craft Beer Nation Website
Craft Beer Nation – Friday Night Hangout – Pale Ale

Craft Beer Nation – Friday Night Hangout – India Pale Ale
Craft Beer Nation – Friday Night Hangout – YouTube Playlist

Anchor Brewing
Anchor Brewing Website
Liberty Ale

Ask Bob Brewer: Is Liberty Ale an APA or an IPA?



The Song That Scares Me

Sometimes, late on a Saturday night, I’m at the computer, headphones on, having a few craft beers and deep diving back into my YouTube History for songs I haven’t listened to in a while. And last night I came across a song that terrifies me every time I listen to it.

Velvet Underground – Heroin

I imagine there must be people who, upon their first listen, say to themselves: “Heroin sounds like just what I need in my life.” But I’m not one of them. This song alone is enough to make me run in the other direction.

For some context, I’ve never done drugs. Of any kind. I’ve never smoked, cigarettes or anything else. My only vice is craft beer. I was the child who listened to his parents about the destructive nature of narcotics. And, being an asthmatic, the thought of smoking anything had zero appeal.

Heroin is a brilliant song and one of Lou Reed’s best vocal performances. Musically, it begins slow and melodic with just Lou Reed’s guitar and Maureen Tucker’s drum. Soon, John Cale’s electric viola and Sterling Morrison’s rhythm guitar join in. There is no bass guitar.

Listening to the singer’s riding a wave of heroin scared and riveted me the first time I heard this song. Reed’ voice and lyrics take you on his journey. Listening to this song I imagine this could only be written by someone who has experienced this.

I’ve thought a lot about why this song scares me the way it does. Some of it is the music. Cale’s searing, screeching electric viola and the relentless drumming of Tucker grip me and drag me along on a ride I would be terrified to experience for real.  But beyond that is Reed’s vocal performance.  His voice rises and falls, gets hard and wild and soft and sweet.  There’s that moment, lost in the rush he must be experiencing where he’s laughing even as he’s nearing death. In the end, I think it is this raw, naked reveal of despair that terrifies me.  Of being that lost and trying to drown the world away, and the unrelenting vulnerability of putting it all on display for the whole world to see and share.

This song has been claimed by many to glorify drug use. I don’t see it that way. To me it is just the experience of it.  Reed isn’t glorifying or denouncing it. He’s simply giving us a glimpse into that ride. A ride that just seeing into that abyss in the version of a song leaves me shaken and terrified.

There are few songs that are this powerful. Songs that can take me on an emotional journey that leaves me physically spent. The End by the Doors is another one.

Is there a song that terrifies you?

Interested in music?  Check out my new weekly blog series: Weekly Wonderings:

Weekly Wonderings 001 – Inaugural

Weekly Wondersing 002 – Learning