A Third Visit to Noble Ale Works Presents Great IPAs and Other Tasty Beers
While I had visited Noble Ale Works a couple of times in 2015 (in the spring and in the summer), I still was curious to get a better understanding of it’s beers. So, on Thursday night, I took a newcomer to the area to experience this brewery that’s one of the best in Orange County here in Southern California. Walking in, there were no seats available, which was pretty much the same experience I had had on previous visits, although we were able to find some counter space near the serving counter. With 16 of beers on-tap, we opted to each go for two taster flights, consisting of five beers each, with four-ounce pours.
For my first flight, I got all four of their IPAs, but started off with a non-IPA. Their Six Four Impala (6.4% ABV), was – get this – a malt liquor. Yes, you read that right: a craft malt liquor! It is was corn-tasting, bready and sweet and delicious. It tasted like an improved version of malt liquor. It was certainly delicious for what it is. I had never had a craft beer malt liquor before. But I would definitely get it again.
Then, I moved on to the IPAs, all of which were tremendously excellent. First up was their session IPA, Nose Candy (4.4% ABV), which has an incredibly amazing nose. The nose is bursting with a sweet, yet piney aroma. The beer is very smooth on the palate and the candy sweetness was also quite flavorful. The pineyness that was on the nose, stayed on the palate and had a long, lingering finish of the light pineyness. This beer might be my favorite session IPA I’ve ever had. It’s very flavorful and it’s hard to tell it’s only a session IPA. Next up was the Big Whig IPA (6.8% ABV), which tastes so mature after the light playfulness of the Nose Candy. I love the rosemary on the nose, palate, and finish. The mouthfeel was fairly smooth and certainly enjoyable. There were also some dark citrusyness going on and it was more bitter than the Nose Candy.
The next two IPAs were bigger. The Back in the Day IPA (7.0% ABV) was a very delicious IPA. In their description, they reference Stone’s IPA as it was created in 1997. Wow – this is a very delicious and complex IPA. It has a strong body, with delectable grassiness and strawberryness throughout, but that barely belies the deliciousness of the beer. It seems less bitter than Big Whig and more bodied. While I typically prefer my IPAs to be unbalanced in favor of hoppiness, I greatly enjoyed this complex and pretty balanced IPA. For my final IPA of the night, I enjoyed the Citra Showers (8.8% ABV), which is their double IPA. It has a grassy nose that stays on palate as well as some grapefruityness and some mango. Once again, as with the other IPAs, it was smooth on the palate, in fact, it had a sort of enjoyable pillowy softness to it. Also, it was pretty lightly bodied for a DIPA, which is enjoyable. This was noticeable after the Back in the Day IPA. It also had a fair amount of bitterness.
After enjoying those IPAs, I then moved on to their stouts and sours. I started off with the Man’s Milk (6.1% ABV), their milk stout on nitro. It tasted chocolatey and dark, as well as being accompanied by a silky smoothness. This was a fine beer. Then I had their Naughty Sauce (5.4% ABV), a stout beer made with coffee from Portola Coffee Lab. It had a coffee nose and strong coffee taste throughout, yet light some tasting of cookie dough, as well. It was silky smooth throughout. Lastly, in the stouts, was Yoga Pantz (5.4% ABV), which was their Naughty Sauce infused with fall flavors. This creamy pumpkin spiced beer retains the lightness of Naughty Sauce, while the coffeeness is still there, yet largely overtaken by pumpkin spiceness. It, too, like the other two stouts was noticeably silky smooth.
For my final two beers, I went with their sours – my first time drinking sour beers at Noble Ale Works. First up was Money on the Wood (6.2% ABV), a red ale that sours with lactobacillus, as well as having spent time with oak staves and Portola coffee. This was a pretty interesting beer to me – I had never had a sour coffee beer before(!). The coffee flavor was noticeable, with some slight tartness. It also had an interesting slight effervescence. The final beer was Cherries Twobilee (7.0% ABV), a deliciously tart red ale that is soured with lactobacillus, with cherries added. This was a delicious beer that was noticeably more tart than the Money on the Wood. It tasted of dried cherries and prunes, accompanied by a nice tartness.
I know I enjoyed all of the IPAs there, although in different ways. I also enjoyed the Six Four Impala and Cherries Twobilee. I am glad that Noble Ale Works is brewing some sour beers, as well as experimenting with a craft beer malt liquor(!). I also know that my drinking compatriot greatly enjoyed the beers of his first visit at Noble Ale Works. Finally, it may be that Noble Ale Works is producing the best IPAs in Orange County. If not, they are certainly towards the top.